Franklin H. Springer

  • Colonel
  • WW I


Franklin Hoxsie Springer was born in Providence, Rhode Island to John and Annie Springer. He was a 1914 graduate of Colt Memorial High School, Bristol, Rhode Island. He entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1914 with the class of 1918, but his education was interrupted by war service. He returned to RISC following the war, and he graduated in 1920 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. He was a member of Rho Iota Kappa fraternity and participated in the Army ROTC program while a student at RISC.

When the United States entered World War I, there were 562 male students enrolled at Rhode Island State College; 334 left to serve in WW I. Franklin, like so many of his classmates, left college at the end of his junior year to enter the U.S. Army and began his officer training at Plattsburg, New York in May 1917. In August 1917, he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry and immediately deployed to France.

LT Springer was assigned as an infantry platoon leader, Company B, 1st Battalion, 165th Infantry Regiment, 42nd (Rainbow) Infantry Division. LT Springer was involved in combat operations throughout his assignment. During the battle of Chateau Thierry, after the other officers of his company became casualties, he took command of his company and led it forward in a successful combat raid against an enemy position. He was severely wounded on 31 July 1918. He was cited for Gallantry in Action and Bravery in General Order No. 50 of the Sixth French Corps by General DuPont and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre. The French Croix de Guerre was instituted on 8 April 1915 by the French Government to recognize acts of Gallantry in Action and bravery in the face of the enemy. Additionally, the Commanding General of the 42nd (Rainbow) Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces cited First Lieutenant Franklin H. Springer, U.S. Army for Gallantry in Action and Bravery.

Following his release from the hospital, Lieutenant Springer returned to combat and was again wounded on 7 November 1918. A rifle shot went through his hip during the fighting at Sedan, France; and he was cited for Gallantry in Action and Bravery by the Commanding Officer, Headquarters, 165th Infantry Regiment, 42nd (Rainbow) Infantry Division.

Major Franklin H, Springer was awarded the Purple Heart and the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster in August 1932 for wounds received in combat during World War I. In addition, he was awarded a Meritorious Service Certificate from General John J. Pershing.

After World War I, Franklin H. Springer returned to the United States and settled in Providence, Rhode Island and graduated from Rhode Island State College in 1920. He married Marion Sherman, and they had two children. Franklin was employed as a Chemist for Davol Rubber Company, Bristol, Rhode Island. He served as a Major with the Rhode Island National Guard until the start of World War II. Recalled to active duty in 1942, he was commissioned a Colonel and went overseas as a Chemical Officer, 29th Infantry Division. He landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day and remained with the 29th Division throughout World War II.

After World War II, Colonel Springer returned to Providence, Rhode Island and was employed as the Chief Chemist for the Davol Rubber Company. He was a charter member of Kearney Post, American Legion, Bristol, Rhode Island. He was also a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Rainbow Division Association and past commander of the Narragansett Bay Chapter, Military Order of World Wars. He continued to volunteer his skills and leadership to the community during his entire lifetime.

Franklin Springer died on 21 November 1957 and was buried with full military honors at North Burial Ground Cemetery, Bristol, Rhode Island. Colonel Franklin Hoxsie Springer, U.S. Army was a son of Rhode Island State College who answered the call to service for Rhode Island and America during World War I and World War II.