My Dad, Dr. Frank E. South Jr.

Dad and Arlington HeadstoneA year ago today, in the early hours of March 4, 2013, my dad died at home, at peace, with his life-long sweetheart, my mom Bernadeane at his side. He was a strong, funny, intimidatingly intelligent, self-deprecating, demanding, critical, and profoundly loving man. For my brother, Robert and me, Dad was more than an influence; he was a primal force. We studied, imitated, and rebelled against him, knowing that as certain as sunrise he would always be there to keep us grounded, honest, and safe. That he was in fact mortal, has come as a shock we have had trouble accepting.

He was also a prominent physiologist, and a WWII Army Ranger medic who climbed the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc on D-Day.  His service in that war he looked back on with horror, humility, and pride. He spoke to that and more in the last address he gave as President of the World War II Rangers Battalions Association, which I’ve reprinted here.


by Frank E. South, President WWII RBA

Fort Benning, Georgia   October, 2009

           We are Army Rangers.  Our war was World War II.

          Like it does in all warriors, war stays alive within us. 

          You would think it would be the sharp crack of rifle fire and the cutting clatter of machine guns echoing down through time.  Or the ground-shuddering thud of shells marching patiently forward, finding their range.  Or the fast-closing whine of aircraft dropping from the sky.

          All of that was there.

          But it is the voices of our fellow Rangers, alive or dead, that live on in us through the years.  For in truth, like all warriors, we fought for each other.  We fought to keep each other alive.

          And now, standing at this memorial, I realize that we have fulfilled that duty.  And we will continue to do so.  We can do no less.

          We are Army Rangers.

          Rangers Lead The Way.  

Dad was buried last spring at at Arlington National Cemetery, with, family, friends, past and present-day Rangers and honor guard in attendance. 

9 thoughts on “My Dad, Dr. Frank E. South Jr.

  1. My dear, dear Trey, It is four years today that your father, my darling Frank, slipped away from us. I thought all the bells in the world should toll, that flowers should droop, flags drop to half-staff. But the world simply speeded up and left us grieving beside his grave. But, thanks to a kind God, I have you and your brother Rob as living honors to his life, and a blessed comfort to me. I thank you for this tribute to an incomparable man.

  2. Frank, thank you so much for bringing my attention to this post. I’ve since shared it with my Facebook world, so to speak. Those are friends and family who know that I only share very special content. Yours most certainly sets the bar.

    My father, a Korean War veteran, died 20 years ago this month. In the blink of an eye, two decades have passed, and I don’t know where they’ve gone. There’s not a day since he died that my father (through all his strengths and weaknesses) doesn’t influence who I am.

    Your post reminds me to reflect on his greatness and the profound impact made by the generation of our fathers. Our world wouldn’t have been the same without these great men, and it won’t BE the same in their absence.

    • Kelli, I’m pleased and touched that this post resonated with you on such a deep level. And I’m grateful to you for sharing your thoughts about your father. Like you, I mourn the absence of these men, but I think we carry them with us, and when we reflect on them and what they meant to us, it keeps them alive and breathing with each breath of ours.
      Also Kelli, thanks for your generous compliment, and for introducing this to your Facebook world.
      Best, F.

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