Columbus Virgle Gross

Army of the United States
10 April 1950 - 21 May 1971
Rensselaer, Indiana
Panel 03W Line 045



Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Columbus Virgle Gross

22 Nov 2005

Virgle Gross served in Vietnam, I believe in 1970. He was killed by a mortar while in a bunker. I never knew him, but someone very dear to me told me he was the kindest and most loving young man she had ever known.

I just returned from Iraq two weeks ago after an 18 month deployment, and although I am very proud to have done my duty, I now know exactly what "sacrifice" means.

I wasn't born until 1971, so I'm sad to admit how unfortunate I was to not have known Virgil on a personal note. However, I can say how proud and fortunate I have become to understanding the sacrifices he made for my freedom. He and his fellow fallen comrades "are gone, but not forgotten."

The lady who told me so much about Virgil was my mother; Virgil is my first cousin. He is family; more ways than one. And that makes me very proud, indeed.

Carrie Southern
Sneedville, Tennessee

P.S. - if anyone remembers serving with Virgle during Vietnam, please contact me. I would love to learn more about the "Military Virgle"....

A Note from The Virtual Wall

By April 1971 almost all Marine forces had been withdrawn from Quang Tri Province, with a consequent build-up of U. S. Army forces relocated from further south. Operation MONTANA MUSTANG (08 Apr - 11 Jul 71) was a 5th Infantry Division operation intended "to locate and destroy enemy forces, eliminate VCI, conduct reaction/exploitation operations and assist in pacification and Vietnamization in Quang Tri Province." 5th ID units occupied a number of positions previously held by USMC units, including Fire Support Base C-2 a bit south of the DMZ. The After Action Report for MONTANA MAULER contains the following entry for 21 May 1971:
"1-61 [at FSB C-2] started to receive 122mm rockets equipped with delayed fuzes. Altogether 11 rockets landed within the perimeter. At 1744H the seventh rocket struck the club bunker which was occupied by an estimated 65-70 personnel. The bunker collapsed on those inside and rescue operations were begun immediately. All available personnel and equipment were requested and employed, and C/1-61 arrived from Quang Tri CB as a reaction force at 2100H. Excavation rescue and dustoff activities finally ceased at approximately 0200H on 22 May. From the incident there were 29 KIA's and 33 WIA's."
The 29 men killed in the collapsing bunker were
  • HHC, 1st Bde, 5 Inf Div
    • CPT George T. Taylor, Mount Pleasant, SC
    • PFC William E. Wolfe, Fountain Valley, CA

  • A Co, 7th Eng Bn, 5th Inf Div
    • SSG Bennie L. North, San Antonio, TX
    • SGT Alvin C. Curry, Portsmouth, VA
    • SGT Columbus V. Gross, Rensselaer, IN
    • SGT Billy D. Herring, St Louis, MO
    • SP4 William M. Kenedy, Meridian, MS
    • SP4 John H. Najmola, Canton, OH
    • SP4 Kenneth G. Westerberg, Barnum, MN

  • B Btry, 26th Arty Rgt, 108th Arty Grp, XXIV Corps
    • SP4 David B. Matykiewicz, Washington, PA

  • C Btry, 5th Bn, 4th Arty Rgt, 5th Inf Div
  • A Co, 1st Bn, 61st Inf Rgt, 5th Inf Div
    • SP4 Randall J. Glasspoole, Riverton, WY
    • SP4 William H. Hjorth, Lansing, MI
    • SP4 Jerome A. Olson, Excelsior, MN
    • SP4 Osier L. Pruitt, Inman, SC
    • SP4 J C. Summerlin, Brewton, AL
    • PFC Vincent M. Benedetti, Providence, RI
    • PFC Joe F. Gayosso, Montebello, CA
    • PFC Karl J. Lavallee, Groton, CT
    • PFC Alberto A. Ramirez, New York, NY
    • PFC William Saylor, North, SC
    • PFC William T. Smith, North Little Rock, AR

  • D Co, 1st Bn, 61st Inf Rgt, 5th Inf Div
    • SFC William C. Jennings, Chicago, IL
    • SSG Leo C. Oatman, Weatherford, TX

  • HHC, 1st Bn, 61st Inf Rgt, 5th Inf Div
    • SMAJ Charles M. Crawford, Lucas, OH
    • SFC Thomas F. Delehant, Dunlap, IA
    • SP5 Steven M. Mitchell, Des Moines, IA
    • PFC Marcus E. Arneson, Glenview, IL

  • A Co, 1st Bn, 77th Arm Rgt, 5th Inf Div
    • 1LT Robert B. Lecates, Florence, AL

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his cousin,
Carrie Southern
Sneedville, Tennessee
22 Nov 2005

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 11/27/2005