A Gold Star Story of Friendship and Determination


This past weekend was both an exhilarating and yet solemn time for this family.

I wanted to share with you an uplifting story associated with the attached photos. Andy, the disabled veteran in the wheelchair, and I met at the VA Hospital where I volunteer weekly and where he was an inpatient. With Andy's permission and knowledge, I'm able to share this.... one day, while we were chatting, Andy told me that he was having suicidal thoughts. Having lost my father (a 29 year Naval Veteran) to suicide, I understood and took what Andy said seriously and encouraged him to get professional counsel. I kept contact with him and checked up on him often in addition to our hospital chats.

Throughout this past year, Andy would compete in wheelchair competitions, often posing holding a photo of my son, US Army CPL Frank R. Gross, KIA Afghanistan. Last October I invited Andy to join my family at Arlington National Cemetery for WAA, knowing that his heart's desire was to be there for the laying of the wreath upon Frank's grave.

Last Saturday's weather looked like he was not going to be able to do it. However, he determined that no matter what, he would give it his best. With the aid of the soldier who was in Afghanistan with my son when the IED blast killed Frank, US Army SPC Anthony Rizzo, with the beard, wheeled Andy to section 60, as close as he could, 3rd photo. Rizzo was in the military vehicle following the vehicle that Frank was in, Rizzo saw the blast occur.

Next Wade Sabourin, who brought the t-shirts to the truck driver's dinner the past two years, joined Rizzo to help hoist Andy to Frank's gravesite, 8311, 4th and 5th photos. Andy's goal and heart's desire came to be on that wet, dismal day. We all agreed that the angels were shedding extra tears upon the WAA volunteers and Gold Star families.

The final photo is all of the GROSS family and friends who were at Frank's grave to encourage Andy that he could make it to graveside for the laying...and he did.

We laid wreaths upon my son's grave, my father's grave and my mother's as well.

That's why I appreciate the Worcester family and what they do, you too, and every truck driver.