By Stephanie Gross, Santa Clarita Contributor
My brother, Benjamin Gross, received his Eagle Scout Award on April 14. He has been involved in boy scouts for 13 years and completed his Eagle Project and board of review in February. This story to me is impactful as my brother dedicated his project to his hero and godfather, Sergeant Steve Owen (“Bullfrog”), a Detective with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who was killed in the line of duty in October of 2016.
Ben’s project consisted of fundraising and a renovation of a kitchen area at the Santa Clarita Equestrian Center used for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s annual Chili Cook-off. Ben received generous donations and mentorship from local leaders such as the American Legion Los Angeles Sheriff’s Star Post #309 that made the project possible. The area is now named “Bullfrog’s Kitchen” in honor of Ben’s, and the community’s hero.
At Ben’s Eagle Court of honor, Captain Robert Lewis, the Captain of the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station and a mentor of Ben’s presented him with a Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of LASD Sheriff Jim McDonell, commending Ben’s spirit, service, and leadership.
In his Eagle reflection speech, Ben said the following;
“When I was thinking of my project, I wanted to choose something that honored a man that modeled the Scout Oath. Sergeant Steve Owen, “Bullfrog”, lost his life in his duty to help others. He was physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight in his difficult job to uphold the law. Bullfrog was my hero growing up, and he is LA County’s hero too. I have these great memories of camping trips and barbeques with him, so the idea of renovating an area at the Equestrian Center that is used for the LASD annual chili cook off was a personal way for me to honor his legacy.”
… “If I could think of three things that the pathway to becoming an Eagle Scout taught me, it would be the power of teamwork, dedication, and determination. To the younger scouts here, you may be asking yourself if aiming for Eagle Scout is worth the work. It is hard, but I believe any of you here can be an Eagle if you are determined and dedicated to the process.”
… “Although this chapter of scouting is coming to a close for me, I will always be an Eagle and I am dedicated to living my life by passing on the knowledge and skills I have learned here while honoring the legacy of Bullfrog and other responders that have given their lives in the line of duty. Like my mom said, this Tiger [scout] always dreamed of soaring, and all of you made that dream a reality.”
Ben graduated high school this spring and will turn 18 in June of this year. He aspires to serve his community by becoming a firefighter. He has already obtained his lifeguard certification and is currently enrolled in UCLA’s EMT program, to be completed just two days after his 18th birthday (the minimum age allowed nationally to certify as an EMT). Last year, he completed the Hart Fire Academy at his high school, sacrificing weekends for two semesters while also participating in AFJROTC.