by Nicole Reitz
Tuesday, Julian Ross, a second grader battling cancer for more than a year, was visited at home by Senator Patty Ritchie and troops from Ft. Drum’s 10th Mountain Division.
Ritchie arranged a visit with the Ross family after learning of seven year-old Julian’s interest in all things military. Julian comes from a military-based family. His grandfather was in the military as well many of his mother Kristi’s uncles and cousins. His uncle was serving in Iraq, but got discharged after being injured.
During the visit, Julian was appointed an honorary “sergeant” by members of the 10th Mountain Division. A proclamation was read of his promotion, which was presented to Ross for his “outstanding bravery when faced with challenges.”
He was also presented with gifts donated by soldiers and various groups at Fort Drum. Among the gifts were identification tags, a patrol cap, camouflage backpack with division memorabilia, a uniform and a St. Michaels medallion. He was also give a 10th Mountain Division hooded sweatshirt with sergeant stripes to keep warm during his trips to the hospital.
Julian changed out of his West Point jacket to change into his new uniform. His mother Kristi said that she can never get her son to take off that jacket. The soldiers and Ritchie took pictures with Julian, and the family dog, Cadence.
His mother teased that as a sergeant, Julian will have a higher rank than his Uncle Bruno. His uncle will be married this Dec. 29, and Julian is in the wedding.
Julian has expressed interest in being a helicopter pilot. The family visited a military base in Norfolk, Va. over the summer. Julian’s name was put on the side of a helicopter. Steve Ross, Julian’s father, said that from his understanding, the same helicopter is now deployed out in the Persian Gulf.
Julian’s mother Kristi explained how excited Julian was of the visit, but was rundown from emergency surgery he had over the weekend.
The visit came one day after he was released from the hospital and he is fighting four infections.
Sergeant Ross was curious as to whether the Ft. Drum had tanks. He was given an open invitation to visit Watertown’s military base to get a tour.