Saturday, July 16, 2011

Army Cpl. Frank R. Gross

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Frank R. Gross, 25, of Oldsmar, Fla.

Cpl. Gross was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas; died July 16, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained in Khost province when an improvised explosive device caused a military vehicle rollover.

In 1999, at age 13, Cpl Gross played with his hero, Cal Ripken Jr., at a baseball camp in St. Petersburg. Highlight was when Ripken pitched to him. In 1998, he hit a home run at Dreams Park, the ballfield at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., as part of a Florida team playing there for a week.

"We lived, ate and drank baseball," he wrote in an account then for the St. Petersburg Times.

Cpl Gross, an avid photographer, guitarist, and surfer, was home schooled through the 8th grade, then attended and graduated from Indian Rocks Christian High School in 2003 where he was a star pitcher and baseball player.

Receiving a baseball scholarship, he attended Trinity University in Illinois, then transferred to Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, where he was also on the baseball team.

Deciding that his chances of making the big leagues were slim, he transferred to Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida where he received his undergraduate degree in digital arts in 2008 and his master's in entertainment business in 2009. He celebrated by skydiving in California.

Following in the footsteps of his grandfathers who had served in the Army and the Navy, Cpl Gross joined the Army in 2010. The master's degree he earned could have put him on the fast track to becoming an officer, but instead, he opted to be a front line soldier.

"Frankie chose not to go into officer training, but to go through boot camp to experience everything every other person would experience in the military as a respect issue," said school superintendent, Don Mayes.

"Frankie was a typical student. All-America boy, loved life," Mayes said. "If you had a conversation with him, you could tell he was a highly intelligent student who would be able to excel at anything he would put his mind to."

The marquee outside Indian Rocks Christian High is honoring Gross.

Art Giannetti, who lives next door to the Gross family, said he cried like a baby when he heard Gross was killed, but Monday morning, he decided to replace his tears with flags.

"Just a tribute to Frank. I knew him very well. We're all going to miss him," Gianetti said.

He and his neighbors bought 125 American flags and walked their quiet streets with purpose, placing a flag on every mailbox. The neighbors hope the flags send a message that words can't.

"A smile and let them know the neighborhood loves them and cares about them," Lange said.

Remembers the last time he saw Spc. Gross, Giannetti said, "As he was preparing to ship out, I shook his hand and told him how proud I was. Last thing I did, I saluted him.'

Frank was not just a young boy that I watched at a distance grow into a man; he was a friend to my children, the only son of dear Christian friends, and he was also an Army brother. We are very proud of Frank's service to our nation, and of all his other many accomplishments in life. None of us will know all the lives he touched during his 25 years. Many people are comfortable sitting back and watching others live life to its fullest; Frank was not one of those people. ~ COL(ret) Emery M., Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

Cpl Gross will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery where his grandfathers are laid to rest as well.

Cpl Gross is survived by his parents, Antonia and Craig, and sister, Natalie.

Army Cpl. Frank R. Gross was killed in action on 7/16/11.


toni said...

Thank you Terri for compiling these solemn tributes to our Soldiers. You are one amazing person. Frank's Mom, Toni

Frank's mom said...

Son, you are dearly missed by your father and me.

Our life changed, July 16, 2011, an event that would forever affect our lives occurred in that wretched, dismal, hostile land...Afghanistan.

Is Christmas celebrated in Heaven?

We love you and miss you son.