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Fallen soldiers, end of Operation New Dawn recognized in ceremony

7:17 PM, Jan 14, 2012   |    comments
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At the Field of Honor in North Tampa, Saturday marked the first calling out of names of fallen soldiers since the final phase of withdrawal from Iraq in Operation New Dawn.

TAMPA, Fla. -- At the Field of Honor in North Tampa, Saturday marked the first calling out of names of fallen soldiers since the final phase of withdrawal from Iraq in Operation New Dawn.

Every three months, the names of the newly fallen are announced. For each name, someone plants a flag in the Field of Honor in their memory. Every flag represents an American soldier who died while serving over the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"All gave some. My son gave all," Craig Gross said to the crowd during Saturday's ceremony.

Last year, the family, who lives in Oldsmar, lost 25-year-old Cpl. Frank Gross. His military vehicle hit a roadside bomb as it drove through Kandahar, Afghanistan.

"It was very rewarding, very fulfilling, to come out here and to put the flag in memory of these soldiers," Craig Gross says. "Words cannot express the grief that people feel when they lose a loved one in war."

Another loved one honored during the ceremony was Army Soldier First Lt. Dimitri Del Castillo from Tampa. He was 24 years old when enemy forces attacked his unit while in Afghanistan's Kunar Province.

A few empty spaces line the Field of Honor in case they have to be filled by another flag representing another fallen soldier.

"We hope and pray that there will be a day very soon where we won't have to have these ceremonies here, that there will be no more names to be read," says Cpl. Gross' mother, Toni Gross.

The next ceremony is scheduled for the second Saturday in April.

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