JEFFERSON CITY- This month the Missouri National Guard’s top enlisted Soldier, State Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Gross, will retire from an institution he has known since 1966.
When Gross began his military career he wanted to follow in his fathers footsteps as a Marine. Though his father had served as a former “devil dog” he convinced his son that the Army’s individualized training would provide experience for both the military and civilian sectors.
Gross entered the service as the Army was entering a war. At that time the U.S. had begun fighting the North Vietnamese and new recruits were being placed in the region. After deploying from the states Gross did not go to war torn Vietnam but was stationed in Korea.
Forming friendships with members of Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army (KATUSA) Gross remembers several times during his deployment when he would volunteer to go protect the Republic of Korea’s northern border.
“If we heard there was someone who came across the border we all wanted to go, no flack vests, nothing, we hopped in a deuce-and-a-half and headed north,” said Gross “Every time though the (Korean Army) had already taken care of it.”
After returning to the U.S. Gross attended Central Missouri State University where received a degree in education. Gross used his degree for over 30 years, beginning as a special education teacher in St. Joseph where he taught at Robidoux Middle School, and Central High school.
St. Joseph is also where Gross began his career with the Missouri National Guard. Joining the 435th Signal Battalion Gross moved through many positions and served with multiple units including teaching at the Missouri Military Academy in Jefferson City.
Gross was promoted to state command sergeant major in 2005. After taking the top enlisted spot in the Missouri National Guard, Gross worked to carry his message of working for the troops to the state command sergeant major’s office.
“I work for every officer, every sergeant, and every enlisted man,” said Gross, “It is important to let your Soldiers know they are part of a team, and that they are on your mind.”
Maj. Gen. King E Sidwell selected Gross to join him at the state headquarters after being appointed the adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard. Sidwell explained that he worked with Gross before becoming the adjutant general and that the he had always taken good care of his Soldiers.
“He has a sincere demeanor about him that gained the confidence of Soldiers throughout the organization,” said Sidwell “They knew he was going to look after their interests and that provided a very positive climate.”
In his retirement Gross hopes to continue building the Missouri National Guard by recruiting new Citizen-Soldiers.