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WASHINGTON-Four-star General Tommy Franks, the featured speaker at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference, pulled no punches in describing his feelings about banks. Out of the starting gate, one of the general’s first remarks was, “Hell, who needs banks?” Later, he disclosed that he had never borrowed from a bank. Franks is a happy member of Fort Sill Federal Credit Union in Oklahoma. Amidst his remarks on creating and preserving the American Dream, the 38-year Army veteran, explained how he got a car loan for a yellow Oldsmobile as a new lieutenant. “Thanks, Fort Sill Credit Union for helping me realize the American Dream. Who needs a bank, anyway?” he said. Franks recapped his lengthy military career from enlisting during Vietnam after flunking out of college to receiving his fourth star from President Bill Clinton. Over his 38 years, he was awarded three bronze stars and three purple hearts. Shortly into the first term of President George W. Bush, terror struck the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Franks was overseas watching the second plane crash into the World Trade Center on the news when he received a call from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asking what he was going to do about it. The general expressed frustration that plans had not been drawn up for terror attacks on U.S. soil even though Al-Qaeda seemed to be building toward that end since the 1980s; he told Rumsfeld it would take a week or so to come up with something and that is what he did. First it was Afghanistan and next it was Iraq. After Franks retired, President Bush bestowed upon him the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.

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