A Hartford native was among five soldiers who died in Afghanistan Thursday when a roadside bomb detonated near their vehicle.
When he enlisted in the Army, Frank was living in Yonkers, N.Y. Most recently he was living in Watertown, N.Y., near his base at Fort Drum.
A Connecticut Army National Guard casualty assistance officer has been working with Frank's family, said Guard spokesman Col. John Whitford.
Frank, who was known as Jeffrey, and his colleagues were members of Company C, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y.
They were on a breakfast run aboard their MRAP, or mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle, when a massive explosion destroyed the vehicle. All five soldiers on the MRAP were killed, according to an article about the incident in the Stars and Stripes newspaper. MRAPs are armored vehicles designed to deflect the force of explosions from bombs planted in or near roads.
Frank joined the Army in August 2005 and served twice in Iraq before being deployed to Afghanistan in March.
He is survived by his wife, Selena Frank, three children, and his parents, Edward J. Frank and Sandra Brown.
Sandra Brown said her son wanted to be a soldier and loved his job.
"This is something he loved to do," she said Monday afternoon. "He said 'Mom, I'm not going to leave anybody behind.' This is what he wanted."
Frank's three children are staying with their grandmother at her North End apartment. Brown said she was trying to be strong for her grandchildren and her children as the family deals with the loss of her son.
The children understand their father is not coming home, she said.
Frank's 8-year-old daughter Dzhanee Frank said she wished that she'd had the chance to say goodbye to her father. She described him as "a very nice guy" who played with her and gave her piggyback rides.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Monday ordered flags at half staff to honor Frank.
"We are mourning the loss of yet another one of Connecticut's fallen heroes," Malloy said. "These wars have taken a terrible toll on our military and their families, and they cast a long shadow over communities all across Connecticut. … Our thoughts and our prayers are with those who are grieving for the brave men and women who have lost their lives in service to the nation, and our troops who are still overseas."
"Our hearts are heavy and our sympathies go out to the Frank family," said Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, who ordered city flags at half staff. "This tragedy is such a loss to his family, his extended military family, his community and his state."
The soldiers in Frank's unit who also died in the attack were identified as: Spec. Jameel T. Freeman, 26, of Baltimore; Spec. Patrick L. Lay II, 21, of Fletcher, N.C.; Spec. Jordan M. Morris, 23, of Stillwater, Okla.; and Private First Class Rueben J. Lopez, 27, of Williams, Calif.
Fellow soldiers assigned to Combat Outpost Nalgham in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan saw the explosion and described a plume of white smoke reaching 200 feet into the air, according to Stars and Stripes. The Company C commander, Capt. Dennis Call, told the newspaper the bomb was buried in the roadway.
The MRAP's doors were blown open, its turret was blown off, and its engine was pushed into the cab, Stars and Stripes reported.
Frank's awards and decorations include two Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, two Army Good Conduct Medals, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the NATO Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon and the Combat Infantryman Badge.