Fallen brother, tragic events motivate brother to succeed
By Lance Cpl. Brian Kester
| | April 23, 2004
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
A recruit's motivation for joining the Corps is undeniably self-defined. Reasons range from a family history to a desire to prove oneself. Ultimately, motivation must come from somewhere within.
Recruit Daniel S. Cross, a 27-year-old member of Platoon 3032, Mike Co., 3rd RTBn., found motivation in the memory of his brother, Capt. David Cross, who died tragically in a helicopter crash Jan. 22, 2003. Not only does Cross have that memory compelling him to complete his mission, but he was also a first-hand witness to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
With the memory of his brother fresh in his mind and the memories of Sept. 11 lingering on his conscience, Cross enlisted in the Marine Corps in early 2004.
"I respect the fact that he came to [recruit training] for his brother," said Staff Sgt. Steven Hunt, drill instructor with Platoon 3032. "For him to want to try out of respect for his brother, I'm sure that's the whole reason he is here."
Hunt identifies with Cross' urge to succeed, and sees the value in family and in upholding the tradition of the Marine Corps within the family.
"I'm all about family," he said. "I have a wife and four kids and my dad was a former Marine. That had a lot to do with me coming in."
Understanding his family's tragedy and dealing with it, changed the way Cross viewed the world.
"My office was six blocks away from the World Trade Center," said Cross. "I got hit by the dust and saw people falling from buildings. The weird thing about it was watching people walk out of that cloud of dust. You could tell that some of those people were in shock. They didn't stop for help or to say, 'hey can you get some of this dust off,' or anything. That seemed very strange."
Viewing such tragedy began to fill Cross with an urge to do something about what was happening in the world. The Marine Corps was a means to accomplish just that, and Cross used his Sept. 11 experience and the fact that his brother had passed as his primary motivation for joining.
"He is a good kid," said Hunt. "His heart is in the right place and he is here for the right reasons. You can only do so much down here, but ultimately, they will make their own decision about the route they want to take."
Judging by Cross's demeanor, Hunt thinks that he will choose the right path in his Marine Corps career. That route is set in stone for Cross, as he tends to lean on the example set by his brother during a 12-year Marine Corps career.
"My brother joining was a great source of pride over the years," he said. "I don't think that anyone who has known me for more than five minutes didn't know I had a brother who was a Cobra pilot."
Even though he is proud of his brother's accomplishments, Cross set out to pave his own path in recruit training.
"I didn't say anything about my brother when I first got to recruit training because I wanted to make the experience my own," he said. "I was here when my brother graduated, and there are times when we are training that I will see something that I recognize from back then. Practicing for graduation last week, we went to the Peatross Parade Deck, and it occurred to me that last time I was there was when my brother graduated."
Out of sheer coincidence, Cross has more than one tie to the Marine Corps, his senior drill instructor. After looking over the motivation table in the squad bay Cross saw something that struck him as somewhat familiar, a 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, (Special Operations Capable) yearbook. A book, that Cross had seen before. In fact, he has that same book in his apartment.
"About three weeks ago he showed me a picture of his brother in my float book," said Hunt. "I was on a float with his brother in '98 with the 15th MEU, 3rd Bn., 1st Marines. I didn't know him, but he looked in my float book and [his brother] was in there. I probably even walked by him a couple of times."
The Marine Corps is a small world and we are linked to people that we do not even know, said Hunt.
Even Cross had no idea exactly how small the world was until he saw that book.
"I thought to myself, 'that book looks awfully familiar,' and I started to look through it," he said. "After my brother died, I inherited all his Marine Corps stuff, so I have this same book in New York. I flipped through it, and sure enough, there was a picture of my brother in that MEU book on the [motivational] table in my platoon's squad bay of all places."
That table represents exactly what Cross' brother has done for him. It motivates and inspires recruits. Recruit training is over, but his Marine Corps journey is just beginning.
"Not a day will go by that I won't think of him for the rest of my life," he said. "I want to honor his legacy in the Marine Corps by being the best Marine that I can be. My hope is, that I can do that, and my only fear is that I won't do that."