Marine Lance Cpl. Jacob A. Ross
Died March 24, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
19, of Gillette, Wyo.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died March 24, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
(The following was taken from billingsgazette.com of Mar. 31, 2010) GILLETTE, Wyo. — Hundreds of people gathered downtown late Wednesday morning to honor Lance Cpl. Jacob Ross, a 19-year-old Campbell County High School graduate who was killed in a firefight in Afghanistan last week.
Ross’ remains were unloaded at the Gillette airport about noon Wednesday in a private ceremony and escorted over a 12.5-mile honorary route by two dozen emergency vehicles, two vehicles carrying Marines in dress blue uniforms, about 200 motorcycles and a 100-vehicle motorcade.
The convoy entered downtown Gillette about 1:10 p.m. As the first Gillette police vehicle came over a hill and into the central business district, people stretched out in the crosswalks parallel to the street, many holding flags, banners and signs.
Dozens of people stood silent on each street corner and in the crosswalks as the convoy passed. The emergency and convoy vehicles covered the route with their lights on and sirens off.
The escort was led by a Gillette police officer, and following him, the hearse, two limousines, two vehicles carrying Marine Corps honor guard and other members of the military, and then the emergency vehicles.
Many of the motorcyclists had flags attached to the rear of their bikes — some of them American, others with POW/MIA flags, and others with the Marine Corps flag.
A Wyoming state trooper, midway through the string of emergency vehicles in the escort, wiped a tear from his eye as he passed through downtown Gillette. Many onlookers also were moved by the event, as the gathered crowd hushed and the escort passed by.
Campbell County Fire Department firetrucks carried firefighters in their full dress uniforms.
Nearly everyone stood at attention with right hands over their hearts and their left hands holding small American flags as the vehicles passed.
Wyoming National Guard Specialist Scott Bullard, who had previously served in the Air Force, stood at attention, heels clicked and still with his right hand at the front of his cap saluting the slain Marine throughout the entire procession. His wife and two children stood nearby.
Bullard said it was “wonderful” to see the massive show of support — dozens of people packed each street corner for a stretch of road more than a mile long.
“It was a great turnout, especially in a place like Wyoming where it’s appreciated. You don’t have protesters out here,” Bullard said. “You have people that are grateful for this young man’s service. We’re an all-volunteer force, everybody is doing it on their own, and it’s nice to see the support.”
Flags throughout town were flown at half-staff, and flags were attached to light poles along the procession’s route. Shop owners locked their doors and gathered on the corners before the procession arrived downtown.
Hours before the ceremony was to begin, prisoners donning striped coveralls and orange jackets picked up litter along the road near Family Life Church, where the wake and funeral services are being held. A truck with “Thank you Jacob” was parked along the road near the airport. Gillette street-sweepers also cleaned along the route.
Motorcyclists gathered at the American Legion on Second Street before they helped Ross’ remains through Gillette. Many of the bikers wore black vests with “Vietnam Veteran” patched across the back in red text. The bikers and limousines were escorted by police from the Legion to the airport at about 11 a.m.
Adam Edmonson, who served as a Marine from 1991 to 1995, stood along the route in a black T-shirt with the Marine Corps logo printed on his chest and a larger version of the eagle, globe and anchor emblem printed on his back.
Edmonson, like Ross, was an infantryman during his term of service. Edmonson said he was a mortarman, and Ross was an assaultman and his platoon’s SAW gunner.
“It’s great to see that people come out and support someone who’s served,” Edmonson said.
Ross’ remains were brought to the Family Life Church after the procession, where the family had a private viewing before members of the public were able to pay their respects.
The hundreds of onlookers scattered almost immediately after the end of the procession. After Bullard dropped his salute, he turned around and hugged his wife, who wiped away tears as he kissed the top of her head.
Ross is scheduled to be buried on a hill overlooking east Gillette at Mount Pisgah Cemetery this afternoon after a church service in the morning. A procession from the church with a Marine Corps honor guard will escort Ross to the cemetery.