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Franklin D. Gross

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Franklin D. Gross, First Sergeant, United States Marine Corps, Ret., 85, of Independence, MO. died January 18, 2006. Visitation will be Monday January 23, 2006 at Mt. Washington Forever Funeral Home, 614 Brookside Ave. Independence, MO. from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Private Burial in DeWitt, MO. at Evergreen Cemetery. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Wake Island Defenders Memorial Scholarship Fund, Central Missouri State University Foundation, Smiser Alumni Center, PO Box 800, Warrensburg, MO. 640939988. Mr. Gross was born in rural DeWitt (Carroll County), Missouri on December 29, 1920, the tenth child of twelve children born to John Franklin and Nettie Susan (Powell) Gross. In 1937, at the age of 16 he departed on a hitch hiking trip and freight train trip to the Northwest, working in the wheat harvest in Minnesota, on an extra gang on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad in South Dakota and picked apples in the state of Washington. In Lompoc, California, he worked for the Southern Pacific Milling Company. He returned home in late Dec. of 1937 and returned to High School. After working in St. Louis for a for a new home construction company for a few months, and with a overwhelming desire to see the World, he joined the Marine Corps and shipped out on Jan. 5, 1939. He spent the next twenty years serving his country, where he saw duty on San Clemente Island for three months, at San Diego Marine base from early 1939 until Feb. of 1941 when his Battalion was transferred to Pearl Harbor. and then to Wake Island with the first 120 Marines to go to Wake to begin building the defense facilities. When the Japanese attacked of December 8, 1941, 4 hours after the Pearl Harbor attack, he was a Corporal in charge of four .50 caliber anti-aircraft guns. During the next sixteen days the Island was under constant attack by heavy bombers and ships. On December 11, a Japanese landing attempt was repulsed with heavy losses by the Japanese of both men and ships. Of the dozen of landings in the Pacific attempted by the Japanese, their attempt to land on Wake Island on the 11th of Dec. was the only one repulsed during the entire Pacific War. On December 23, 1941, after sixteen days of relentless bombings and ship attacks, with no planes left and the big guns with only a few rounds of ammunition left, the Island was surrendered by Commander Cunningham, the Island Commander. Mr. Gross spent 44 months in prison camps. He arrived home in October of 1945. He served in Virginia and at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina until the outbreak of the Korean War where he served where he spent the next twelve months. He retired from the Marine Corps in August 1957. In 1963 he moved to Independence, Missouri, where he sold insurance and worked at the Independence Post Office. In 1973 he graduated from Central Missouri University with a teaching Degree in Social Studies and General Agriculture. He taught school at Grain Valley High School from 1974-1977. After leaving the teaching profession, he sold real estate for seventeen years until his retirement in 1995. Mr. Gross was preceded in death by his parents, four brothers and five sisters. Among his survivors is his wife , Mildred (Hickerson) Gross whom he first met in his second grade at DeWitt Elementary School. They were married on April 4, 1946. He is also survived by three sons, Franklin D. Gross II, John C. Gross both of Lee's Summit, Mo. and Doug V. Gross of Independence, MO. and 10 grandchildren. (Arr: Mt. Washington Funeral Home)
Published in Kansas City Star on Jan. 20, 2006
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