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"You know what they say about old soldiers: they still kick butt with the best of them!"
- – General Franklin
Richard Franklin was a third generation career Earthforce military officer, a veteran of both the Dilgar War and the Earth-Minbari War. Nicknamed "Old Firestorm," by 2259 his career highlights also recognized him as the "Hero of the Canal War," "Liberator of the African bloc," and the "Scourge of Janos VII."
Franklin married and had five children, with the only son being Stephen Franklin. A better soldier than family man, Richard and his son often had a strained relationship, made all the worse by the father's long absences in highly dangerous campaigns.
When Stephen was an adolescent, shortly before the Dilgar War, Richard was first officer on the EAS Ares when it was shot down and captured by hostile alien forces during a civil war between two midrange colonies. It took Earthforce almost two months to retake the enemy base. Richard was so badly wounded that he would have died had he not been treated by an alien doctor. Despite this one event, a lifetime of battling alien races in so many actions left him with a low opinion of all non-humans, considering them threats to mankind.
After graduating with a medical degree from Harvard University, Stephen decided to travel the galaxy, hitchhiking on various starships. His father was not pleased at all, and the two did not speak for several years until Stephen joined Earthforce at the onset of the Earth-Minbari War.
In 2259, he led 25,000 Earthforce Marine Corps to Babylon 5 on their way to planet Akdor. Earthforce had been asked by the Sh'lassen Triumvirate for relief in putting down a rebel uprising. Codenamed "Operation Sudden Death," General Franklin first stopped at the station as a cover story, and to strategize with Captain John Sheridan, who had briefly served on Akdor. Serving as chief medical officer on the station is Stephen, and the two have a tense reunion followed by a reconciliation. Operation Sudden Death is a success, but not without losses to Earthforce.
- According to J. Michael Straczynski, General Franklin was among those who remained loyal to President Morgan Clark during the Earth Alliance Civil War, and at one time considered have him appear again during the course of the war.