The Stone House
Todd Franklin and Sean Plante developed an interesting friendship. They started out as Blue County sports rivals playing for competing schools – Todd with the Greenville High Giants, Sean with the cross-river enemy Hillsboro Hurricanes.
The two athletes were often pitted against each other in local lore and the area press and both enjoyed successful athletic careers. Ironically, both players were recruited by Northeastern University on partial football scholarships and they began commiserating with one another regarding their options as their senior years unfolded.
The Northeastern Huskies hadn't had a very successful program in recent years but the Head Coach (Barry Gallop) made both youngsters feel special and wanted. The former rivals' competitive nature slowly turned into a bonding friendship when they attended the same recruiting meetings and campus tours together. Soon the two realized that they had a lot in common and got along well.
The athletes decided to accept Northeastern's offer and they became roommates as red-shirted Freshman which allowed their friendship to solidify, especially as they suffered through the inequities of being Freshman players together. Todd was an Engineering Major while Sean was pursing Information Technology.
When Todd, the slender yet rugged quarterback, began expressing an interest in joining the campus ROTC Program, Sean - the burly tight end and defensive end – decided to accompany his friend in the discipline.
The ROTC commitment required that the two participate in military physical training, military leadership training, military development classes, maintain good grades, and participate in battalion events as well as expressing an interest in joining the Navy following graduation. Battalion activities included Drill Team, Color Guard, Military Excellence Competitions, Military Balls, and an annual Pass in Review.
Todd and Sean's studies, football commitments, and their ROTC responsibilities kept them busy with little time for active social lives although Todd met and fell hard for a Boston girl named Sonya Martin at one of the Military Balls.
Sean got along well with Sonya and occasionally he accompanied Todd to Sonya's parent's house for dinner. Sonya came from money and the Martin's house was larger than the dorm building Todd and Sean lived in.
Sean met Sonya's friend Bonnie who was an undergrad at Boston University but he was too busy and preoccupied with his goals to invest a lot of time in a social life and Bonnie didn't appear to be interested in any sort of relationship so while Sean found her to be attractive and fun and the two were friendly, they remained friends of friends more than anything else.
Bonnie had beaus along the way anyway but she and Sean often accompanied the young lovers Todd and Sonya to dinner and on other outings. Sonya had a favorite seafood place at Revere Beach the four would frequent on her whim.
Sean liked Boston and because Sonya and Bonnie were Boston natives they showed him and Todd all the best places around town. The four also attended several games at Fenway Park, The Boston Garden, and out In Foxboro.
Neither of the Blue County natives went home much and it was clear to Sean that Todd was totally absorbed with Sonya. By Junior year, the couple was talking marriage.
Both student athletes excelled in their pursuits and they played a fifth year of football at Northeastern because they had been redshirted as Freshman. The two friends enjoyed successes on the football field though neither was among the team's best players. As they approached their January graduation date, both Todd and Sean decided to pursue military commissions in the Navy.
They met with the Boston area Navy Officer Recruiter and went to the Military Entrance Processing Station together to complete the psychological and physical fitness testing. Fortunately, neither had suffered career ending injuries on the football field.
The recruits passed the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and they chose specialties to pursue – Sean in Intelligence, Todd chasing his lifelong dream of becoming a Navy fighter pilot. Medically cleared, the two men passed a criminal background check, credit check, and drug and alcohol testing.
The football season ended in December (a disappointing 2-9 record to complete a less than stellar 15-38 record during their five year career with the team) and the boys graduated in January.
Todd and Sonya took a trip to Europe for two months while Sean went back to Hillsboro and worked in his father's paint store.
"So, I guess this is goodbye," Bonnie said to Sean at the end of a dinner together with Todd and Sonya on the night before their flight left Logan.
"I guess," Sean said.
"Good luck to you," Bonnie said, giving him a hug.
"You too," Sean said, feeling strangely sad to say goodbye to her.
In April, when Todd returned from Europe, he and Sean took their oaths of office in downtown Boston and they headed for Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Naval Station, Newport RI – a twelve week course with no liberty for the first seven weeks so it was a tearful goodbye for Todd and Sonya as he and Sean "shipped out".
"Goodbye again," Bonnie remarked when she and Sonya saw him and Todd off.
"Goodbye again," Sean said, sad once again.
Attending OCS was a culture shift for the two new Sailors but as college football players with ROTC backgrounds they were accustomed to routine and discipline so the adjustment wasn't as tough for them as some of their new classmates.
The candidates wore uniforms while in the classrooms and barracks, sweats and other athletic gear while undergoing physical training. They were paid as enlisted (E-5) and they were referred to as "Officer Candidate".
Classes advanced through three distinct phases, each taking on greater responsibility and preparation for commission. In addition to constant physical training and rifle drill, classroom instruction included Naval History, Engineering and Weapons, Damage Control, Naval Orientation and Warfare, Leadership, Seamanship, Navigation, and Military Law.
Actions, behavior and attitude were scrutinized and shortcomings were swiftly corrected. Candidates who failed to meet milestones were held back or dismissed but neither Todd or Sean had difficulty in that area. Adherence to a Code of Honor was mandatory and both Todd and Sean were dedicated to honoring such expectations.
Both men were relieved when Liberty was finally granted after two months, starting off as a few hours on Friday night and then on weekend afternoons. Sonya and Bonnie drove down from Boston and had dinner with "the boys" – although most of the talk was about the wedding plans as being arranged by Sonya and her sister.
Todd and Sean successfully completed Officer Candidate School. They graduated on a Friday morning and were commissioned as active duty Ensigns in the United States Navy. Todd would be heading for flight school in Pensacola while Sean was due in Dam Neck Virginia for Intelligence training.
But first, Todd and Sonya were getting married the next day at the Stone House in nearby Little Compton, Rhode Island.