Franklin N. McNeil, Jr. was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and raised primarily in Memphis, Tennessee. After participating in high school sports and speech teams; leading his high school’s student government and the Memphis’ Association of Student Council Presidents and being elected to Boys State and Boys Nation, he received a congressional nomination to the U. S. Naval Academy from Congressman Jim Sasser. He received a B.S. degree in Political Science in 1983 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
Frank served for eight years in the Marine Corps as an artillery officer primarily at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He held various positions in an artillery battery and was selected to be the Assistant Division Commander’s Aide de Camp during his final year there. After Lejeune, he went to a post that had long been a dream of his from the first time that he saw the Silent Drill Team perform when he was sitting in the bleachers on the lacrosse field during Plebe Summer…the Marine Barracks Eight and I in Washington, DC. While at the Barracks, in addition to serving as the clubs officer and Registrar for the Marine Corps Institute, he was selected as to be a member of the parade staff and performed in various ceremonies and parades. He was also honored to be selected as a White House Social Aide for President George H. W. Bush. (Give Frank a call if you want to hear stories of meeting HM the Queen of England, President Gorbachev or other world leaders; and also take a look at the adjacent picture from one of the state dinners held during the Bush ’41 administration!)
Frank left the Marine Corps in 1991 and worked at the Baltimore Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond for sixteen years. He held several positions there, but the majority of his time at the Fed was spent working with foundations, community non-profits, financial institutions and local governments to ensure that there was fair and equal access to credit to do affordable housing and small business development in the states of West Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia. In February of 2008, Frank became a part of PNC Bank’s, charter Greater Maryland Community Development Banking team. As a community consultant his job includes outreach to the community; writing and presenting grants and sponsorships; providing and teaching financial education and materials; partnering with non-profit organizations; identifying lending and investing opportunities; and participating in strategic development and support of PNC’s low- and moderate-income branches in the greater Maryland region.
Frank lives with his husband, Paul B. Fowler, MD, a radiation oncologist, in Baltimore, Maryland, where they met in 1995. They love entertaining, currently have two pugs and a yellow lab, and they all welcome visitors to their home. Both Paul and Frank are very active in their community; specifically, Frank either currently serves or has served in leadership roles with the following non-profit organizations: Chase Brexton Health Services, the Community Law Center, BMore Fit, Greater Homewood Community Corporation, First and Franklin Street Presbyterian Church, the Annapolis Baptist Student Union and Johns Hopkins Vaccine Studies.
I had outstanding experiences at the Naval Academy and in the Marine Corps and almost everyday, I encourage young people to consider one or both organizations as they think about their futures. It was a pleasure and a remarkable honor to be able to work with and be a part of the United States Navy and the Marine Corps. I was humbled many times while working with the many dedicated men and women who served our country. It was of course difficult to reconcile this with my orientation but with the support of many friends and family (biological and chosen) I was able to persevere. Completing my service just prior to DADT, I was never confronted about my orientation and who knows if it would have had an impact on my career. I was truly fortunate that my personal life and the Marine Corps never clashed but rather, coexisted. Internally, there was always the worry that perhaps someone would find out and then that peaceful coexistence would come to a screeching halt.
I am part of USNA Out to let others know where I have been and to serve as a role model for those who are going through possibly similar experiences to mine. I am envious of those of you at the Academy or who are in military now because you have this organization and others like it as invaluable resources … when I was a mid (and for a long time even as a young Marine officer) I was certain that I was the only one in this situation and that there was no one with whom I could converse or commiserate. As the old spiritual goes, ‘If I can help somebody, along the way…then my living will not be in vain.’
I salute and thank those of you who are in the service of our country and your families for the sacrifices that you have, are or will be making on my behalf…Beat Army and Semper Fidelis!