Remembering LT

Shad and Bob “LT” Franco, a lifelong friendship.

Bob “LT” Franco served in Vietnam in 1970, where he met NVF Founder Shad Meshad at the 95th Evac Hospital at Danang. In that crucible, they forged a deep and lasting friendship. Franco, who led a combat team, had come to cover the hospital’s perimeter for a brief time. Each knew instantly this was no ordinary war-time friendship. They shared a bond that only deepened over the next 50 years. Shad persuaded his commanding officer to extend Bob’s assignment for three weeks by overriding Franco’s commander. The duo was legendary. You can read about it in Shad’s book Captain for Dark Mornings.

Both came home at Christmas in 1970 as part of Nixon’s Christmas drop. Both
experienced a crash landing of sorts. Shad came to LA and invited Frano to join him. They were like brothers. When Shad founded the Vietnam Veterans Aid Foundation, Franco served as the second Chairman of the Board for four years, and his support of the NVF never wavered after that.

After the war, Bob became a successful restauranteur in Beverly Hills. Several years later, he met and married Tammy Treat. They subsequently moved to her home in Arkansas, where Bob was eventually diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which he battled bravely for over ten years until esophagus cancer took his life. 

“As a leader in the field in Vietnam, his priority was the lives and safety of his men. As a friend he was the most loyal and unfailingly supportive friend I ever had. He served his country with honor and valor, and it was an honor to know him for everyone he met. With his loss, there’s an LT-shaped hole in my life and in the lives of many others.”

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About the Author

Cathie Smith

A military brat, Cathie Sandstrom Smith has lived in five countries and ten states. She has written for the National Veterans Foundation since 1997 and currently serves as Writer/Editor as well as on the Advisory Board.


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