While many military personnel were drafted into the Vietnam War, Frank McGinnis volunteered his service straight out of high school. His father served as a Master Chief in the U.S. Navy for 31 years, which inspired Frank to serve in the Navy as well.
Frank enlisted in the Navy in 1972 and completed Basic Training at the Orlando Naval Training Center. His time in Active Duty took him along the Mississippi River, Iceland, Vietnam, and the Mediterranean Sea as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate. It was during Frank’s time on the Mediterranean Sea when a refueling ship collided with his own ship. Frank sustained back injuries, lung problems, and PTSD throughout the course of his service. In 1976, Frank transitioned to the Navy Active Reserves. He was honorably discharged in 1977 as an Officer 1st Class.
The transition back to civilian life had several bumps along the way. Frank told us, “I couldn’t get a job for a long time. I also couldn’t talk with other people about what I went through in the military, because they couldn’t understand what I experienced. The way people treated the veterans who returned from Vietnam was hurtful.”
Today, Frank and his wife, Caroline, live in Lincolnton, NC, as comfortably as they can. When asked what Frank likes to do in his free time, he expressed, “Everything I like to do, I can’t do anymore. I used to love fishing. Now, all I can do is sit around.” Frank also developed Parkinson Disease, which contributes to the limited mobility he has from his time in the Navy. “I have extreme difficulty moving from my bed to the bathroom in the middle of the night,” Frank emphasized.
Purple Heart Homes was able to give Frank a handicap accessible bathroom, in addition to replacing his front door and redoing his entire front deck. “I’m really proud of what they’ve done for me. They really did a good job. Everybody at Purple Heart Homes is awesome. This whole experience lifted me up,” Frank shared with us. Thank you for the sacrifices you made for our country, Frank. We welcome you and Caroline to the Purple Heart Homes family!