This Memorial Day, and every Memorial Day, we remember those who gave their lives. And here at American Dream U, we specifically remember Frank Gross.
We remember him a little bit differently here than most people do. His legacy lives on in the form of a stuffed animal – Frank the Eagle.
It sounds strange, but for our team it has been an incredible way to grieve, remember his life, and share his story. Frank the Eagle has traveled all over the world with American Dream U. He’s Sumo Wrestled in Japan. He’s sat Michelle Obama’s office at the White House. Jim Koch, the founder of Sam Adam’s Beer, has fed him beer. He’s even gone to some day clubs at the Las Vegas pools.
Frank the Eagle, attending one of our past 45 Vetracon Events.
Jim Koch, Founder of Sam Adams Beer, giving Frank a taste.
Frank Gross’s father, Craig, with the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.
A Vetracon attendee with Frank
Frank the Eagle taking down some Sumo Wrestlers in Tokyo.
Frank the Eagle naked at the White House.
A Vetracon attendee appreciating Frank’s story.
Frank the Eagle is a great reminder.
Frank the Eagle has always been a conversation starter, and that gives us the opportunity to share Frank’s story. Jess Holland, American Dream U’s Director of Business Development, lived with Frank’s sister, Natalie. So she knew all about Frankie and how he loved to surf, how he was an amazing baseball player, and how he loved photography.
It’s hard to put in words the character of Frank, but we hope this story explains a little more.
Frank attended Trinity University in Illinois on a baseball scholarship. But he knew he probably wouldn’t play professionally, so he transferred and got his Bachelor’s degree in digital arts and a Master’s in business entertainment from Full Sail University. He was a smart guy. But even with those academic credentials, where he could have easily gotten a great job, he chose a different path. He felt compelled to follow in the steps of his grandfathers and join the military. With his degrees he could’ve become an Officer, but he went to boot camp instead. He was a front line soldier.
He was simply one of those people where you knew he was brilliant. From a conversation you could feel his compassion and selflessness. You knew he was the sort of person willing to put others before himself.
But, just 19 days after being deployed to Afghanistan, he was killed in action. He received a Purple Heart, and his father buried him in Arlington National Cemetery on his 26th birthday at 11am, the exact time he was born.
We are deeply saddened this Memorial Day, as we are every Memorial Day. But we are constantly reminded by Frank the Eagle – reminded of Frank’s life, his courage, his love, and ultimately his sacrifice.