World War II veteran's remains finally back home in Athens

Edgar Gross was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Posted: May 24, 2019 8:08 PM
Updated: May 24, 2019 10:41 PM

A World War II veteran's remains are on the way to his final resting place in his hometown.

Edgar Gross was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor. His remains were buried as an unknown soldier at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

He was recently identified and will be laid to rest on Memorial Day in Athens. His remains were flown into Huntsville's airport Friday evening.

The Limestone County Sheriff's Office and the Patriot Guard Riders escorted him to Athens.

Edgar Gross served on the U.S.S Oklahoma. His body remained unidentified for more than 77 years.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's historic speech in 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor means something entirely different to Steven Gross, because of his Great Uncle Edgar.

"My grandparents and aunts and uncles, they taught us at an early age from children and told us never to forget," said Gross.

Many of his family members aren't alive now to see him arrive home.

"We're living their dream is what it amounts to," said Gross.

Edgar Gross was 39 when he died. He was a Water Tender 2nd Class. His job helped power the U.S.S. Oklahoma, but he was also a firefighter on the ship.

"He would have probably been trying to put out the fires that were rampant on the ship," said Gross.

When DNA testing identified him last year, the family also learned he didn't suffer.

"He did not last very long from the time he was injured," said Gross.

The group of Patriot Guard Riders who helped escort him from the airport to Athens jumped at the opportunity to help the Gross family.

"It's a privilege and an honor to do this," said Jeff Tennyson with Patriot Guard Riders.

The ceremony on the tarmac at Huntsville International Airport, 77 years in the making, helps complete an unfinished chapter in the Gross family history book.

"It's closure for the family. We don't have to worry about where he's at and if they're going to find him. He's actually home," said Gross.

The Gross family is very grateful the Defense Prisoner of War Missing in Action Accounting Agency never stopped working to find and identify him.

Edgar Gross will be laid to rest on Memorial Day following a full police escort around the Athens area ending at Cherry Grove Baptist Church.

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