Frank M. deGraffenried
Sergeant Frank M. deGraffenried III was born in Columbus, Georgia, on May 11, 1930, to Frank and Lucy deGraffenried. He spent part of his childhood in Pittsview, Alabama, and lived most of his life in Auburn.
Frank attended Auburn High School where he was #10 on the Auburn High Tigers football team. After graduating high school, Frank traveled to Atlanta to test into the military. He passed the test with a score one of the recruiters said was the highest anyone had ever made, but Frank always had a suspicion the recruiter said that to everyone. Frank joined the Marine Corps and began his career in June 1948 at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Paris Island, South Carolina. After 13 weeks, his platoon came out with honors.
In 1950, Frank was deployed to serve in the Korean War. He was part of several iconic battles in Korea, including the Battle of Inchon, the Battle of Yongdong and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.
During the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, he served under the legendary Marine Lieutenant General Chesty Puller. In Frank’s memoirs, he talks about Lt. Gen. Puller’s unwavering dedication. When troops flew in to take Puller out of the battle, Frank said he refused to leave. Puller told them, “I came here with my men, I’m going out with my men.”
Frank spent nine months fighting in Korea before returning to the U.S. He received numerous awards for his service, including the Bronze Star Medal which he received upon his return in 1951 at a ceremony held at the Marine Barracks in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. He received the award for heroic achievement in connection with the operations against the enemy while serving with the Marine rifle company in Korea on March 19, 1951.
While the company was assaulting a series of strong enemy replacements, it was pinned down by enemy fire. Frank disregarded his own safety, crawled to an exposed position and fired rockets into the enemy bunkers, silencing their fire. Frank’s courageous actions contributed to the successful accomplishment of the company’s mission and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Frank served at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, and he met his future wife, Delores, at Virginia Beach. They got married in May 1952 and moved to her hometown of Rochester when he was discharged in June 29, 1952. After a year, they moved back to Alabama, where they had their four children Cheryl, Frank, Janice and Karen.
Frank worked in sales before joining the Auburn Police Department in 1953. He attended many training schools, FBI short courses and graduated from the Montgomery Police Academy. He was promoted to sergeant in 1963 and became Auburn’s first detective in the early ‘60s. The Exchange Club honored him as policeman of the year in 1967, and he was promoted to captain in the mid ‘70s.
Frank was known and respected for his dedication to his duties, his ability to solve difficult cases, and his fairness to his fellow man. He put others’ needs above his own, going so far as to lend his gun and patrol vehicle to new officers when the department was running short. Frank was even complimented by those he arrested for the respect he showed. He set a precedent of respect and excellence for the rest of the department.
He was a member of the Marine Corps League (Billy Stepflug detachment #1064) and the Fraternal Order of Police and retired from the Auburn Police Department after 30 years of service on March 1, 1987.