By TONY STINNETT
Franz Walkup wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and older brother when he joined the military.
Much like those family members before him, Walkup gave of himself to serve and defend his country. The Army fire support specialist has been transferred to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., after suffering from injuries sustained during an attack in Afghanistan.
Walkup was injured during a gun battle in Afghanistan in late September. Walkup suffered gunshot wounds to the abdomen when U.S. soldiers fired upon Afghan allies who returned fire. U.S. soldiers believed they were under attack by insurgents when a mortar round hit a checkpoint set up by American soldiers. The Afghan allies returned fire and Walkup was shot five times.
Doctors originally treated Walkup, a Cannon County High School graduate, in Landstuhl, Germany. He underwent five surgeries to repair various serious injuries. He was recently transferred to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he continues to battle on the road to recovery.
The Walkup family has endured military conflict previously. Frank Walkup III was a Marine, as was another of his sons, Frank Walkup IV. Walkup IV was killed by an explosion in Iraq in 2007. He was a commissioned officer and was a member of the ROTC program at the University of Tennessee.
The news has been better for Franz, who is rehabbing and making progress during what figures to be a long road to recovery, according to doctors.
Sister Emily Agee, a 2012 graduate of CCHS, said the prayers and support have been overwhelming.
“The amount of support and prayers and everything has been overwhelming,” Agee said. “It is amazing how a community can care about a life. So many of the places have put up signs of encouragement or called us, or posted on a Facebook page in support of (Franz). The support is just amazing.”
Agee said the family realizes there is a still a long road ahead and the recovery process will not be an easy one; however, she says there is progress and all the love shown Franz helps drive him.
“It’s tough, especially when you have been through this before,” Agee said. “We are so very lucky and fortunate. We are so relieved that (Franz) is doing better. Knowing people care and are sending prayers and support has been helpful.”
Franz’ twin brothers, Jake and Joshua, are eighth-graders at Woodbury Grammar School. They said just knowing their brother is living and improving gives them strength and courage.
“We’ve gone through something like this before, and I can imagine losing another brother,” Jake said. “It’s tough but it is getting better and that is encouraging. We are so blessed to have people in the community who care so much.”
A Facebook page, “Staying Strong for Franz,” has been started to offer support and well wishes and monitor Franz’s progress. An account also has been set up at First National Bank to assist the family with expenses. Donations may be made to Team Franz at First National Bank locations in Woodbury, Murfreesboro and Manchester.
By TONY STINNETT