NO. 17831 • 7 Dec 1928 – 23 Jun 2006
Died in Marshall, MO
Inurned in Ridge Park Cemetery, Marshall, MO
Frank Hall Duggins, Jr., was born in Marshall, MO, just across the street from the home where his father was born, on land his great-grandfather purchased in the mid-1800s when he came from Virginia to Missouri as a surveyor. After his retirement from the U.S. Army in 1978, Frank eventually returned to the family home with his own family and his great-grandfather’s surveying instruments. Frank’s daughters were born in the same county in Virginia that his great-grandfather had lived in before moving West.
Frank’s first exposure to the military came when he attended Kemper Military School in Boonville, MO. While there, he befriended two future West Point classmates, Don Langren and David Meredith. They maintained these friendships throughout their lives. Frank graduated from Kemper in 1945 and kept close ties to the school, serving on the faculty, 1957—60; as President 1982—83; and as a prominent member of the Board of Directors.
Frank was attending the University of Missouri in the Engineering program when his father presented him the opportunity of an appointment to West Point. He recalled “never really wanting to be in the Army...and riding on the banks of the Hudson River wearing a wool uniform on hot, humid days was not really much fun.” As was his nature, he made things work and was an active cadet. He was on the staff of the cadet magazine, The Pointer, all four years, serving as the associate editor his first class year. He also was sports editor of the Mortar and a member of the Weightlifting and Radio Clubs. His journalism experience served him well, and he continued honing his writing skills throughout his life, from well-written speeches to witty letters and emails. He enjoyed telling his daughters of some of his antics and was proud to show them West Point at his 55th Reunion in 2005! He was amused at the thought that his grandsons and granddaughters might even continue the tradition.
His first assignment after graduation was to Korea, serving in the 5th Cavalry Regiment. During his tour in Korea, he was awarded a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantryman Badge. Frank and Margaret later traveled to Korea with classmates in 1997. When he returned from Korea in 1952, he accepted an assignment at Ft. Carson, CO, as aide-de-camp to GEN George Kaiser. He also ran the Officer’s Club and often shared many fond memories from this assignment with friends and family. GEN Kaiser persuaded Frank to continue his career in the Army, instilling in the young leader that he, indeed, could make a difference.
In 1964, while on leave over a long Memorial Day weekend, Frank visited his father and his brother David in New Orleans. David introduced Frank to his friend, “a charming southern belle,” Margaret Robbins of Mobile, AL. They were married 4 Sep 1964 at the Cadet Chapel, followed by a yacht excursion on the Hudson River where, reportedly, “the champagne flowed freely.”
In 1965, Frank was assigned to the Military Assistance Command, Viet Nam (MACV). As a newly promoted lieutenant colonel, Frank served as the Senior Sector Advisor assigned to Advisory Team #57. As an American counterpart to the Vietnamese province chief of Vinh Binh Province in the Mekong Delta Region, LTC Duggins was recognized as an excellent military strategist. He provided excellent leadership, and Advisory Team 57 was recognized for successfully carrying out many of the pacification efforts that were a part of the MACV mission.
Following his first tour in Viet Nam, Frank was appointed Commandant of the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School in 1966. He and Margaret moved from Ft. Benning, GA, to Ft. Belvoir, VA, where their daughter Kathleen was born in 1967. Kathleen was christened at the Cadet Chapel. Their daughter Molly was born in 1970, also at Ft. Belvoir.
Frank then was assigned to a second tour of Viet Nam in 1971. One of his privates, Jim Bussell, recalls that they were “the last troops to be airlifted out of Viet Nam.” Once the troops were evacuated, he returned home and accepted an assignment reorganizing National Guard units through offices in St. Louis, MO.
He retired from full service in the military as a colonel in 1978 and returned home to Marshall with his family. His next “assignment” was the restoration of the family home and the full-time parenting, tutoring and mentoring of his daughters. He became an active member of his community, serving as mayor of Marshall from 1979 to 1980, and was a member of Rotary for over 30 years, serving as President from 1989 to 1999. He remained an integral member on the Board of Directors of Kemper Military School and was active in the Saline County Historical Society, the Red Cross, the Sheltered Workshop, the United Methodist Church, the Board of Directors of Marshall Municipal Utilities and the United Way and in the development of the Nicholas-Beazley Aviation Museum.
As noted in the 1950 Howitzer, his “fame of quick wit and happy countenance” served him well throughout a lifetime of leadership. He led by example and was driven continuously to further his knowledge on any and all topics, from the Missouri Mules to local and federal government. In September 2003, shortly after their 39th wedding anniversary, Margaret passed away after battling cancer. He is greatly missed by his family: his daughters Kathleen Smith (Bryan) and Molly Crews (Tom); his brother David Duggins and wife Bitsy; and four grandchildren, Zachary and Grant Smith and Margaret and Katie Crews.
We take comfort in knowing our father, “this old foot soldier” as he referred to himself, was admired by and a mentor to many and always will be fondly remembered as a great story teller.
— Respectfully submitted by his daughters, Kathleen and Molly, with special thanks and much appreciation to Carol Raynor and her notes!