Veteran from Walnut Creek to receive special honor


"We were the lead boat in the third wave and we found out later that the first three waves were expendable," said World War II Veteran Dan Franklin.

It was a long time ago, but Franklin has vivid memories of D-Day. He was only 17, part of a landing craft crew whose job was to deliver soldiers and supplies to Omaha Beach.

It was a bloody day -- mines everywhere. In fact, Franklin's first boat sank after it hit one. His second landing craft was also blown to pieces.

"We narrowly missed a couple of mines as we went by and we lowered our ramp and unloaded the stretchers and blankets and then backing out we hit a mine full force. And of the ten only two of us survived," said Franklin.

Now 69 years later, Franklin will receive the French Legion of Honor Medal, considered France's highest honor. He applied nine years ago, but couldn't prove he participated in the D-Day invasion. A year and a half ago, Franklin tried again, and with the help of others, he was able to obtain the necessary paperwork. Among the documents was a letter of commendation from his lieutenant.

Franklin's children and grandchildren couldn't be more proud. They've heard the D-Day stories time and again, which they say never get old.

"I can't believe he's here standing. I can't believe anybody is here standing that landed on that beach. So we're proud of him, we're all really proud of him," said Franklin's daughter Mindy Becker.

While Franklin downplays his role during D-Day, he certainly understands the significance of that day in history. His hope is that future generations will too.

"I think they should know the sacrifice that was made by so many and that we were successful," said Franklin.

Franklin will receive his medal during a presentation at the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio. His wife, children and grandchildren will be there with him.

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