Memorial honors fallen Phantom trooper
Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News EditorSoldiers from 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade honored the memory of one of their own with a memorial dedication ceremony outside squadron headquarters Monday at West Fort Hood.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
The unit dedicated a gazebo and outdoor patio area to Cpl. Frank Gross, and placed a granite memorial stone in the fallen Soldier’s memory during a ceremony attended by Gross’ mother, Toni, and sister, Natalie.
“This is a place where our troopers can get together and enjoy the camaraderie,” Lt. Col. Dave Jones, squadron commander, said. “This is our common grounds, and Cpl. Gross is fittingly in the middle.”
The commons area, including the wooden gazebo and a patio area with a barbecue pit, was constructed by the squadron’s rear detachment Soldiers, Maj. Mark Belinsky said.
Gross, 25, died July 16, 2011, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device caused his vehicle to rollover in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. His death left an indelible mark on the Phantom Trackers, who recently completed their yearlong deployment to the volatile region.
“Frank made Charlie Company 2-38 better,” Capt. Talon Young, Gross’ company commander, said. “His death focused our mission and gave purpose to our fight.”
Known as a Soldier who never shirked from a task and a born leader, Gross was one of those who had the ability to immediately touch lives, Young added.
“He radiated confidence, maturity, integrity and toughness,” the captain said.
Staff Sgt. Michael Dubois only knew Gross briefly, but was impressed by the young Soldier’s drive.
“Cpl. Gross was a Soldier who was motivated and who didn’t have to be told what had to be done,” Dubois said. “He was the first to volunteer to do a task.”
Gross exhibited dedication to every aspect of his life, Spc. Justin Forcier, a friend of Gross, said.
“Frank made the most of every second he spent on Earth,” Forcier said. “He was, hands down, one of my greatest friends. I am a better man today because of him.”
Those who knew him also spoke about Gross’ physical fitness regiment and his commitment to working out.
“He was a physical fitness guru,” Forcier said. “Frank was always rock solid.”
His workouts motivated his older sister, Natalie, who entered
fitness competitions following Gross’ death.
“He trained every day, but never competed,” she said. “I have my second competition coming up.”
She said Frank joined the Army because he wanted to serve his country and the service was a good fit for him.
“He was always competitive, so the nature of the Army appealed to him,” Natalie said.
Her brother blossomed in the Army, and Natalie said she saw another side of her brother while he was serving.
“He was different after he joined. He came out of his shell,” she said. “The Army turned him into the young man I always wanted him to be.”
The young corporal fulfilled all of the qualifications of a good son, his mother, Toni, said.
Before joining the Army in May 2010, Gross had already received a bachelor’s degree as well as a master’s degree. He attended college on a baseball scholarship. Gross was diligent to complete everything he set out to do.
“When he committed to do something, he was going to do it,” she said.
Following his loss, the Soldiers in the squadron reached out to the Gross Family. Toni thanked them for their support.
“Your prayers, emails, letters and phone calls have helped lessen our loss,” she said.
She said the commons area dedicated to her son was a fitting tribute.
“I believe that Frank is pleased with what you’ve created here today,” Toni said. “I know I am.”