Today Pfc. Dustin Gross will return to Montgomery County High School. Pfc. Gross, who graduated only a year ago, was killed in Afghanistan last week. His funeral will be this morning in the high school arena.
Pfc. Gross, of Jeffersonville, had been in Afghanistan only six weeks when he died of wounds suffered after his unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device. Two other soldiers died as a result of the attack.
Pfc. Gross, 19, was in Ghazni province with the 3rd Squadron,73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division based in Ft. Bragg. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Army Good Conduct medals and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Both his football coach and a close friend described Pfc. Gross as a determined young man with an outgoing nature.
"Anytime you were around him you couldn't help but be smiling," Chris Kendrick told the Mount Sterling Advocate. "He was just an all-out amazing kid. He was everybody's hero."
"He was hard-nosed," his former coach, Dan Gooch, said. "Even though he was short in stature he was very physically strong for his size. Pound for pound he was probably one of the strongest kids I've had."
Pfc. Gross is survived by his parents, Angie Brown and Stacy Gross, as well as a brother. Kendrick said his friend's plan was to spend four years in the military and then return to Mount Sterling to be a police officer.
When his body was returned Friday, hundreds of Montgomery countians lined the roads to pay tribute to him.
We join them in honoring his service and offering our sympathies to the family and friends he leaves behind.