Francis G. Lee Sr

  • Captain
  • WW II


Francis George Lee was born in Providence, Rhode Island on 22 February 1906. He was the son of William H. & Kathryn Lee. He graduated from Commercial High School in 1924 where he a standout athlete and scholar and President of his senior high school class. He entered Rhode Island State College in September 1926 with the class of 1930, majoring in Business Administration. He was a member of Delta Alpha Psi (Sigma Chi) Fraternity and participated on the Polygon committee which was the governing body of the men’s fraternity system at the university. He was a member of the football and track teams and a member of the Economics Club and President in his senior year.

Frank immediately enrolled in the ROTC program. He was selected as a member of the Officers Club which had as its purpose the development of the military department. He served as the First Sergeant and Adjutant within the Corps of Cadets during his junior and senior years. He was a varsity member of the 1st Corps Rifle Team and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry upon graduation in June 1930.

During the period between World War I and World War II, the United States Congress limited the Regular Army to 12,000 commissioned officers and 125,000 enlisted men. Army strength stabilized at about that level until 1936. The United States Army was tasked to assist the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) by the War Department during this period.  The CCC was a public work relief program that supported thousands unemployed, unmarried men from relief families as part of the New Deal. The CCC provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation of natural resources. The CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men, to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression. The United States Army was tasked to provide the leadership for the CCC camps.

Career Commissioned Army Officer’s found themselves as commanders of CCC camps. Throughout his military career, Captain Francis G. Lee thrived in the most challenging and demanding leadership, training and operational assignments. As a Lieutenant of Infantry, he served in numerous leadership positions to include Company Commander of the 103d CCC Company, Miles Standish Forest, Plymouth, Massachusetts. From there, he was assigned as Company Commander, CCC Company, Millbury, Massachusetts. To capitalize on his leadership and training expertise, Captain Lee was assigned as Company Commander, 1187th Company, 13th Infantry Division, Fort Devens, Massachusetts.

His next assignment was to the Post Garrison, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Because of the shortage of Military Police Officers, Captain Lee was assigned to the U.S. Army Prison. It was during this time that he was taken ill and transferred to Fitzsimmons Army General Hospital, Denver, Colorado where he died in early 1942. He left behind, his wife Agnes Hartnett, URI ‘27 and two young boys, Francis who was five years old, URI ’57 and Robert who was a mere infant.

Captain Francis George Lee was buried at Saint Francis Cemetery, Pawtucket, Rhode Island with full military honors. He left a military legacy that ended too quickly; but through his legacy, the University of Rhode Island ROTC program would graduate two more generations of Army Officers who would all rise to the rank of Colonel.