Soldier Honored For 1947 Heroism On Fort Drum


Carolyn Leps wanted to find what she considers hallowed ground.

When she got in touch with Fort Drum's archeologist, she found it and so much more.

"I had no intention of this happening when I contacted him. All I wanted to see was where my father died," said Leps.

Her father was Captain Francis Turner.

He arrived at his barracks at what was then known as Pine Camp for Exercise Snowdrop in December of 1947.

But a fire would change his plans.

On the night of December 10th, 1947, as the fire erupted, Captain Turner decided to go back into the flames to save fellow soldiers.

He suffered third-degree burns and succumbed to his injuries a few weeks later.

"He epitomizes those values that we soldiers aspire to have. His actions were heroic, demonstrating a high level of personal courage, selfless service and sacrifice," said Garrison Commander Colonel Gary Rosenberg.

The fire killed five in total.

Captain Turner helped save ten.

This week, a plaque was unveiled at the site to honor the dead.

Captain Turner's family made the trip from Florida and Virginia.

"My father was a hero. We always learned that. We were always told that. And I'm so glad that this has happened," said Elizabeth Barbee, Turner's oldest daughter.

What message might the vaptain have for his children on this special day?

"I'm so proud of you, my daughters," said Barbee.

After the fire, Congress passed and the Supreme Court upheld the Feres Doctrine, named after Lieutenant Rudolph Feres who also died in the fire.

It prohibits active duty military from suing the government for injuries sustained on duty.

Leps said she hopes someday, the doctrine is repealed.

Thursday, December 8, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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