Meet Sonny Franck, all-American

Well before big-time college sports became a sinkhole of fraud and corruption, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers manned several legendary teams with athletes of character, some of whom proved themselves to be bona fide heroes. One such is Sonny Franck, age 85, standout running back and consensus all-American on the 1940 Minnesota Gopher football team. Today he will be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.
After his magnificent college athletic career, Franck entered the Marines and served in the Pacific as a pilot who saw harrowing duty: “Franck’s fighter plane was shot down over the Marshall Island of Wojte on Sept. 7, 1945. He was bouncing in the sea a half-mile from the island that was fully occupied by Japanese troops. A rescue plane also crashed, putting Franck in the water with six other U.S. servicemen. ‘They sent a whaling boat in off a destroyer to get us,’ Franck said. ‘The Japanese were firing at me, but the worst part was swallowing the dye I had put in the water to attract the rescue plane. Once the whaling boat got in close, the Japanese were firing 8-inch shells at it. I was hauled in, laid down and went right to sleep. The shells were close. The other guys in the whaler thought I had nerves of steel, but I was just tired from being in the water for two or three hours.'”
Please take a moment this weekend to read the column by Minneapolis Star Tribune sportswriter Pat Reusse paying tribute to Franck: “Franck finally receives recognition from college Hall.”


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