Gross dedicated to serving others

·3 min read

Jul. 5—Daniel Gross recalls serving at Frank Gladd American Legion Post 20 right when the 2019 flood swept Fort Gibson.

"I came in as finance officer, and they literally dumped a wooden donation box in front of me and said, 'Here, do something with this,'" Gross said.

The box was filled with $8,000 in crumpled up donations.

"This post was, I guess you could say, the main hub for the town," Gross said. "We served I don't know how many meals for 30 days before the Red Cross came in. Then we switched gears and donated a lot of small stuff, like granola bars, Slim Jims, lot of Gatorades, water. We'd fill the ice chests and put them in back of trucks to go around visiting everybody who were working on their houses. We didn't give up on the community. We kept giving."

He wants the post to keep giving when he takes over as post commander later this month. He said current commander Tim Smith seeks to move up to a national American Legion post. Gross was elected commander in late June and will get sworn in July 18 when Smith steps down.

Smith, a national executive committeeman for the American Legion, called Gross a leader.

"He puts other people's needs before his own," Smith said. "He has worked in law enforcement and emergency management, so he's been in stressful situations."

Gross said he has been a volunteer firefighter and a reserve law enforcement officer, as well as an emergency management volunteer. He also served in the U.S. Army for 12 years.

"I was actually on the plane heading for Panama when Desert Storm hit," he said, referring to 1990 response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. "I did not ever go to the sands. I went to Panama."

Gross left military service after injuring his shoulder, but still wanted to serve.

"I was needing to fill the gap — to continue to serve is the best way to put it," he said. "When you get used to serving in that kind of capacity you leave a big void in your life."

After joining the Frank Gladd Post, he served as finance officer and vice commander.

Gross said the biggest benefit of the American Legion is "the stuff you don't get to see."

"We've got a public fund," he said. "We help veterans, whether it's before Christmas and a guy owes $500 on his electric bill. Or 'I need a tank of gas so I can earn my paycheck.' We help veterans with the little stuff a lot, and it just reassures me that we are still giving forward and giving back."

He said "really great volunteers" help the 270-member post serve the community.

"The officers that we have all step up. It's like a full-time job for them," he said. "And then, we've got a group of volunteers that just don't quit."

Meet Commander Daniel Gross

AGE: 57.

HOMETOWN: Woodall.

EDUCATION: Woodall School; Tahlequah High School, class of 1982.

MILITARY SERVICE: November, 1982 to February 1995. Sergeant E5.

OCCUPATION: Disabled.

FAMILY: Wife, Marsha.

CHURCH: Crescent Valley Baptist Church.

HOBBIES: Shooting, working at American Legion.