Southampton men in military

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, October 24, 2018

by Clyde Parker

October 22, 1943

The Tidewater News

Lieutenant Wynans Ellis Frankfort, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.M. Frankfort of Franklin, has been awarded “The Air Medal” by Lt. General George C. Kenny, Commander of Allied Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific area. Lt. Frankfort, an Army Air Corps fighter pilot, was cited for meritorious achievement while participating in 25 operational flight missions of the American Fifth Air Force during many of which strafing and bombing attacks were made from dangerously low altitudes.

Private Frank I. Hundley, son of Mr. and Mrs. T.F. Hundley of Sedley, entered the Student Clerical School at Fort Logan, Colorado, Army Air Forces Training Company on Oct. 15. Inducted last June, Private Hundley completed his basic training at Miami Beach, Florida.

Corporal John Charles Vargo, of Thermal Air Field, Indio, California, visited his former home in Sebrell recently. Corporal Vargo has been in the Army Air Forces for six months, serving in the Infantry 18 months before making the transfer. He visited friends and relatives during his stay in the county, and will be joined by his wife, Mrs. John C. Vargo of Sebrell, in the near future.

William H. Howell Jr., of Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, has been promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He is a son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Herman Howell of Franklin.

N.A.S. Franklin hosts Rotary Club

Members of the Franklin Rotary Club had an unusual treat Wednesday in an impromptu celebration of “Navy Day” when club members and a few guests enjoyed a luncheon at the Franklin Naval Air Station and an inspection trip through that most interesting place. The visit was hosted by the Base Commander, Lt. T. P. Wilkinson, a Franklin Rotarian.

Assembling at the air base at 12:30, a generous lunch was served in the base mess hall where Rotary President J.W.B. Thompson presided. After lunch, groups of Rotarians went on tours through the air station.

While newspapers are not permitted to print a great deal about what they see on such jaunts, it can be said that the Franklin Naval Air Station is thoroughly self-contained to meet every possible need in the way of military, aerial, hospital, and recreational equipment within its grounds.

Oct. 29, 1943

Frankfort missing  in action

The Tidewater News

Mr. and Mrs. H.M. Frankfort of Franklin received a wire last Friday indicating that their son, Lt. Wynans Ellis Frankfort was “missing in action” somewhere in the vicinity of Kairu Island, Southwest Pacific. Earlier this month, Lt. Frankfort was awarded the “Air Medal” for distinguished service with the American Fifth Air Force in the southwest Pacific, based in New Guinea.

He won his wings at Spence Field, Moultrie, Georgia last February and was shipped out to Australia in May, going from there to New Guinea where he had been stationed since July 7. Lt. Frankfort had been flying the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and had been engaged in escorting bombers and transport planes, making interception and attack missions and patrol and reconnaissance flights.

During many of those flights he had flown dangerously low attitudes for the most effective strafing and bombing tactics. He had an excellent record in this country as a fighter pilot and was cited for meritorious achievement in the Southwest Pacific operations, where he had participated in 50 missions. 

NOTE: Gaynelle Edwards Riddick, Franklin historian and author, wrote about Ellis Frankfort’s experiences in World War II. In reference to the above “missing in action” account, in her book “Honor the Past,” she tells what happened. He was missing for nearly three weeks. His plane had caught on fire while returning to his base after providing close cover for eight B-25 bombers. He bailed out at 1200 feet and landed in the top of a 150-foot tree. When trying to get out of the tree, he fell and broke a rib and sustained many bruises. He was rescued by natives and was ferried down-river to a plantation housing American Forces.

In May of 1944, Lt. Frankfort, on another mission — with several other P-47 pilots, disappeared during an attack on enemy aircraft. He was last seen chasing a Japanese plane. Again, his family was notified that he was “missing in action.” Finally, on Feb. 16, 1946, he was presumed dead by the War Department.

In May of 1991, the U. S. Air Force Historical Research Center was notified that wreckage of a U.S. P-47 was found on Biak Island in the Republic of Indonesia.

The aircraft tail number corresponded to Frankfort’s aircraft. In September of 1994, Frankfort’s remains and the airplane were recovered.

In July of 1995, Phillip Frankfort of Franklin, also a fighter pilot but in the European Theater of WWII, received notice that his brother’s remains had been recovered.

On Sept. 16, 1995, 51 years after his disappearance, Lt. Wynans Ellis Frankfort was buried in Franklin’s Poplar Springs Cemetery, with an honor guard from the U.S. Army and a “flyover” by the U. S. Air Force, with the missing man formation.

For more complete details, reference is made to Gaynelle Riddick’s book, “Honor the Past.”

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is