Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fallen Soldiers Remembrance Ceremony in Oldsmar grows into big event

OLDSMAR — Toni Gross had originally figured it would be a small, private ceremony.

The mother of Cpl. Frank Gross, a soldier from Oldsmar who was killed in Afghanistan last year, she decided to organize a Fallen Soldiers Remembrance Ceremony where the names of the dead would be read aloud. She chose Aug. 18 at Veterans Memorial Park in Oldsmar.

Then, unexpectedly, Gov. Rick Scott agreed to speak at the ceremony. More and more people expressed interest in participating. The event kept growing and growing.

So on Tuesday night, the Oldsmar City Council voted unanimously to waive a $1,445 special event fee that Gross would have had to pay for security costs, equipment rental fees and insurance.

"We appreciate all that you're doing," Mayor Jim Ronecker told Gross. "I do believe that if done properly, this will be a wonderful event, and hopefully an annual event for the city."

No one really knows how many people will show up at the ceremony. It's a first-time event. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

It will be similar to the quarterly Field Of Honor ceremonies that are held at Veterans Memorial Park on U.S. 301 in Tampa.

Speakers will include Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, U.S. Army Chaplain Mark Worrell, Oldsmar's mayor and others. Boy Scouts and Patriot Guard Riders will read aloud the names of American soldiers, sailors and Marines who have been killed in the last six months.

There will also be patriotic music; appearances by active-duty soldiers and possibly the Special Operations Command parachute team; and presentations for Gold Star families whose children were killed in war.

"People in Oldsmar have really reached out to us. We are blessed to live in this community," Gross said. "By having this ceremony, I want to give back to this community as well."

Appearing at the ceremony will be four soldiers who were with Cpl. Frank Gross on the day he died.

A 25-year-old Army gunner, he was killed by a roadside bomb in July 2011 in the Khost province of Afghanistan.

He had lived in Oldsmar since 1998.

Just last week, his longtime friend, Staff Sgt. Matthew Steven Sitton, died after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

Sitton, a 26-year-old from Largo, attended Indian Rocks Christian High School with Frank Gross. They even played on the same baseball team.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to


Fallen Soldiers Remembrance Ceremony

What: An event to memorialize U.S. armed forces members killed in the line of duty in the last six months

When: 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday

Where: Veterans Memorial Park, 250 Shore Drive E, Oldsmar

Details: Speakers will include Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, U.S. Army Chaplain Mark Worrell and others. Boy Scouts and Patriot Guard Riders will read the names of the fallen.

Fallen Soldiers Remembrance Ceremony in Oldsmar grows into big event 08/08/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 8, 2012 8:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. President Trump: Nation's culture being 'ripped apart' by Civil War statue removals


    WASHINGTON — Showing his characteristic refusal to back down in the face of criticism, President Donald Trump deepened his defense of Confederate war memorials Thursday, sending out a series of messages on Twitter that adopted the language and arguments of white nationalists who have opposed their removal.

    President Donald Trump points to members of the media as he answers questions in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday. Republican leaders on Wednesday tiptoed around Trump's extraordinary comments on white supremacists.  [Associated Press]
  2. With election heating up, Bill Nelson floods Tampa Bay


    Sen. Bill Nelson seems to have set up a residency in Tampa Bay, a crucial area for his upcoming re-election campaign.

    Nelson campaigns with his wife in Orlando in 2012
  3. Martinez Middle School evacuated after bomb threat


    LUTZ — Bob Martinez Middle School has been evacuated after someone called in a bomb threat, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Another local Confederate display sparks division, this one over name of the war


    TAMPA — While the Hillsborough County commission was wrestling over the future of Confederate monument at the county courthouse, a lawsuit has been playing out in court over how best to represent the Civil War across town at Veterans Memorial Park.

    Supporters of a Civil War display at Veterans Memorial Park and Museum had a brochure made to attract donations. They argue in a lawsuit that their efforts were thwarted when the park's executive committee changed their plans.
  5. Myrtle Avenue closed, man hospitalized after Clearwater bike crash


    CLEARWATER — Myrtle Avenue is closed in both directions following a bicycle crash that hospitalized a man with serious injuries.