The long-awaited burial of a Limestone County native killed in Pearl Harbor will happen on Memorial Day, a family member confirmed recently.
Water Tender 2nd Class Edgar D. Gross, a native of the Carriger community, was one of 415 Navy crew and 14 Marines who died on the USS Oklahoma when the ship was attacked by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941.
Stephen Gross said he will receive the remains of his great-uncle Edgar Gross on Friday, May 24, at Huntsville International Airport. The remains will then be taken to Limestone Chapel Funeral Home, where visitation is tentatively scheduled for 1–5 p.m., Sunday, May 26.
The Gross family plans to attend the annual Memorial Day observance at the Limestone County Event Center on Monday, May 27. Edgar Gross’ remains will be transported past the Event Center to Cherry Grove Baptist Church, 6530 Cherry Grove Road, Athens, which is where the funeral will be held, starting at 1 p.m.
Following the service, Gross’ remains will be taken from the church to Evans Cemetery for burial. After the burial, a reception will be held at Cherry Grove Baptist Church. The public is invited to attend all the events.
The burial is a culmination of several years of work and research by Stephen Gross, who resides in Calhoun County and is an award-winning photographer for The Anniston Star.
“I’m sure I’ll have mixed feelings about it, seeing that casket coming off the plane,” he said. “(Edgar) was larger than life. As a child, I heard all the stories. It will just be a surreal moment.”
Edgar Gross’ remains were positively identified last year, but the process to bring him back to Limestone County began in 2011 with a phone call to Stephen Gross from DeeDee King of the POW MIA accounting division. The division is tasked with trying to identify remains of those killed in military combat.
King told Gross that DNA would be needed to confirm his uncle’s remains. He was able to secure family members’ DNA fairly quickly, but it took several years to receive a positive confirmation.
In the years since hearing from King, Stephen Gross has learned more about his great uncle and even donated some of his belongings to the Alabama Veterans Museum. The journey has also connected him with other veterans and families of veterans. He and his wife often take cruises, and the cruises usually feature a way for veterans aboard the ship to get together. Stephen has attended some of those meetings and spoke about what he’s done.
“The last three cruises, there were people lined up waiting to talk to me about this,” he said. “And there’s usually always somebody from the Athens area on a cruise.”
© 2019 The News Courier (Athens, Ala.)
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