Father, Bronze Star recipient dies

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Suffolk resident who is a Bronze Star holder and former Navy officer died Tuesday after a brief illness.

Brian James Ross Jr. died at the age of 37. The North Dakota native deployed four times to Iraq, Africa and the Mediterranean Sea.

He initially went into the Air Force Academy and then decided he wanted to be in the Navy SEALs, so he traded his Air Force commission for a Navy one, said his wife, Robyn Ross.

Brian James Ross Jr.

Brian James Ross Jr.

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There were no SEAL spots open at the time, so he decided to go into explosive ordnance disposal.

“He spent most of his time in Iraq,” Ross said. “He also did a tour on a minesweeper ship that spent most of its time in the Mediterranean Sea.” He also spent time in Djibouti, Africa, Ross said.

Her husband thrived on the challenge of the work, she said.

“His main outlook on not just that job but everything he did was trying to make a difference for the good,” she said. “He was making the streets and the soldiers safer by finding and getting rid of all the roadside bombs.

“Doing things that were helping someone was important to him,” she continued. “It was a hard job. He liked to be challenged. He liked that it was a physical job. He wasn’t sitting behind a desk.”

Ross left active duty in 2009 and began working for the Army as a civilian, making training videos.

“Since most of the kids that are coming up through the ranks of the military grew up playing video games, (the Army was) trying to see if training them in a similar way with videos and gaming-type scenarios could help them in combat,” Ross explained.

When he wasn’t working, Ross supported his wife. She is the volleyball coach at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, and the couple ran Nansemond Volleyball Club together in the offseason.

“He coached with me and worked with the girls on strength-training type stuff,” she said.

But his most important role — beyond military man or anything else — was that of father to their four children.

“He was a really amazing dad,” Ross said. “With me coaching during the school year he was with all four of them, and really held the family together so I could do something I loved and that we thought was making a difference in the lives of the girls that we coached.”

Fatherhood was of paramount importance to her husband, she said.

“He did everything with them,” she said. “Even though it would make whatever the project was five times longer and harder, he always let them do whatever he was doing. It was really important to him to raise good humans. They knew and saw by example the type of person he expected them to be.”

Ross is also survived by his parents and three sisters. A funeral will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday at Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church.