Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Frank J Gasper

Merced, California

May 25, 2008

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
25 Army SSgt

3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group

Fort Carson, Colorado

 Killed in Najaf, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.

A Soldier’s Tribute
By Staff Sergeant Robert Burd

We are here to pay tribute to a Soldier, a Non-Commissioned Officer, a Husband, a Father, a Son, a Brother, and a wonderful friend. I would like to start with a poem that Frank wrote shortly after we lost Rob Perelli last summer during OIF V:
We are men that were taught by those from long ago
Trained and proficient we pray for war
An explosion is set off and we hear it in the distance
Our hearts race like that of a medieval knight’s horse
We all yell, “Let’s get it on, they’re ready for more!”
We all fear death but would accept it with honor
We would all take a bullet for those by our side
Many have fallen but none without valor
A war cry is let out
“Ahhhh! They don’t fear death, so let’s see if we can get them there faster, men!”
Another cries out
“Move like me, fight like me, but if it’s tonight please don’t die like me!”
For some can feel that this is the first day of their last days with us
Tomorrow we will remember a warrior that fell
His family will mourn, but we will celebrate his victory”

Frank’s death WAS a victory, as was his life. When Frank enlisted in 2002, he enlisted into an Army at war… something lesser men would have been afraid to do. As he said himself, it was something that he felt that he “had to do”. He was a warrior and a patriot even from birth having been born on Veteran’s Day.
I’ve known Frank for about six years now. He came to the 10th Group in the Spring of 2003. I was deployed to Iraq at the time, and I heard that we had gotten a new radio operator in the detachment. I was told that he was taunted a bit about this A-hole named SGT Burd that was going to eat him alive when he got back from Iraq. When I got back in June I met a nervous kid who was afraid to let his new boss down. Frank was a fast learner, though, and quickly established himself as the “go-to guy”. 

Over the next few years, we became pretty good friends, but Frank was always professional enough to know the difference between work and play. We spent a few too many nights over a few too many beers talking about his life growing up in rural California on a dairy and how much he loved building cars with his Dad, his favorite being the Chevy Nova which his Dad always joked with him about being a girl’s car. He used to tell me about all his friends back in California and the Muscle Car Club they all belonged to.

 I can remember how big of a smile he would get when he talked about winning burn-out contests at the local car shows. I watched Frank grow from a nervous, young private to a confident and competent NCO. One of the proudest days of my career came in December of 2006 when I got to promote him to sergeant, and even more proud when I got to walk him into the Staff Sergeant Promotion board in the summer of 2007. Frank loved his job. 

He was always reminiscing about his time as SGM Steigall’s radio operator in Tikrit, telling stories about how crazy SGM was. Also about his time in Task Force Pioneer with LTC Roberson (then a Major) and how exciting the missions were and how much he loved being on them. He always wanted to be a Green Beret. Though he never got there, Frank was as much of an 18E and a “Quiet Professional” as I’ve ever seen.

SSG Frank J. Gasper was a Hero… He was a Hero to his adopted son whom he loved as his own flesh and blood. Frank talked about Deven with all the gleam in his eye that all of us would expect from our own fathers. He affectionately called him “my boy” when he would tell stories about how he took Deven up to Rampart range to shoot rifles and joked about how Deven was going to be a “cold, calculated operator” someday. And how proud he was that Deven got all A’s n B’s and was named most improved student at the end of this school year. 

He was a Hero to his high school sweetheart and wife, Brianna, whom he loved with all that he was. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a couple who loved each other as much as they did. He was absolutely everything to her and spoke of her as if she was his Queen. My wife and I often commented to each other about how cute they were together and about all the sweet comments Brianna would leave on Myspace about her hero who was in Iraq. He was a Hero to his Family who was so very proud of his service in the Special Forces and to this great nation. 

Frank often attributed his decision to join the Army to that fact that he’s had several family members who have served, and spoke of them highly. He was a hero to all of us. His dedication and professionalism were unmatched by any of his peers. His mentorship to his soldiers was paramount in their continued success in this war on terror. His life forever changed all of ours. Frank believed in and loved what he did. He was a CHAMPION of the oppressed. 

He was always ready to deploy, he was always ready to fight, and he was always ready to get on that truck. Frank died doing what he loved to do, and wouldn’t of had it any other way. If he wasn’t leading the way, he wasn’t satisfied. Frank was my brother… he was our brother. 

I would like to close with a scripture from the book of John. 15:13 Greater Love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Frank laid down his life and though he has passed from this world, I know in my heart that I will see him again one day, like another scripture from John says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall NOT perish but have everlasting life.” I love you Frank… you will never be forgotten. 


Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Merced Soldier: Sgt. Frank J. Gasper

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Frank J. Gasper of Merced, CA:

“Sergeant Frank Gasper’s bravery is a shining example of the courage and determination that makes our nation strong. His dedication to preserving our nation’s freedom serves as inspiration to all Californians and his sacrifice will not be forgotten. Maria and I extend our prayers to Frank’s family and friends as they mourn this tremendous loss.”

Gasper, 25, died May 25 in Najaf, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. Gasper was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, United States Army, Fort Carson, CO.

In honor of Sgt. Gasper, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff. 
From Merced Sun-Star merced sun-star.com 05/27/08:

Merced Co. Soldier Killed In Iraq:

Frank J. Gasper Was Two Weeks Into His Fourth Tour Of Duty

05/27/08 By Leslie Albrecht, Merced Sun-star

Merced County resident Sgt. Frank J. Gasper, 25, was killed in Iraq on Sunday, during his fourth tour of duty.

He died in Najaf when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, according to the Department of Defense. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, Fort Carson, Colo.

Gasper was two weeks into his fourth tour in Iraq when he was killed, said his wife, Breanna Gasper. Two other soldiers in the vehicle were injured; Gasper was killed instantly, she said.

Gasper is the fourth Merced County service member to be killed in Iraq.

Breanna Gasper, 24, described her husband as a funny guy who loved telling animated stories of his time in Iraq, complete with sound effects and hand motions.

He loved muscle cars, driving big trucks, four-wheeling and going to the shooting range, she said.

Gasper, born on Veterans Day, joined the Army in 2002, in part because his uncles and cousins had served in the military.

“He just felt it was something he had to do,” said Breanna Gasper. 

She said her husband was committed to serving in Iraq, gladly returning for multiple deployments. “He would have it no other way,” she said. “He felt like if he was over there he was actually helping someone. If anyone told him he couldn't go, he would fight to go over there.”

Gasper planned to attend Green Berets training, then work for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency after leaving the Army, said Breanna Gasper.

His awards and commendations include three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Good Conduct Medals and a National Defense Service Medal.

Frank and Breanna Gasper both attended Golden Valley High School, graduating a year apart.

They were married in 2002, two months after Gasper enlisted.

Breanna Gasper said she last spoke to her husband Friday.

“He told me that he loved me. I told him that I was proud of him,” she said.

“He said, 'I love you, Bunches, and I'll talk to you later.'“ Bunches was his pet name for Breanna.

Sunday afternoon, Breanna Gasper saw two men in uniform from her husband's unit pull up outside her house near Fort Carson, Colo.

“I told myself, 'Please, don't let them come to my door,' “ she said.

When the doorbell rang, she refused to let the soldiers in at first.

Eventually they entered the house and delivered the news that Sgt. Gasper had been killed earlier that day.

After Breanna Gasper learned of her husband's death, she watched a video he made for family and friends to watch in the event of his death. The video shows photos of Gasper set to the song “My Infinite Love” by George Strait.

Breanna Gasper said her husband chose the song as a message to his loved ones.

“Basically the lyrics are, whenever you see a shooting star, it's me,” said Breanna Gasper.

“And if you get a feeling you can't explain, I want you to know it's me watching over you.”

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