FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Dec. 20, 2012) -- On Tuesday, senior leaders, from Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division (LI), and state Sen. Patty Ritchie visited the home of Julian Ross, an Oswego County second-grader, who has been battling cancer for more than a year.

Using her close ties with Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division (LI), Ritchie arranged the visit after learning of 7-year-old Julian's fascination with all things military.

During the visit, Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Oldroyd, Fort Drum garrison senior enlisted adviser, read a proclamation officially designating Julian as an honorary sergeant of the 10th Mountain Division (LI).

The proclamation was presented to (honorary) Sgt. Julian Ross "for outstanding bravery when faced with challenges."

"Your spirit is an inspiration to all and reflects the courage of you and your family," Ritchie said.
"I can't put into words how thankful I am for the generosity of our 10th Mountain Division Soldiers who took the time to make the trip to Oswego, as well as Fort Drum's new commanding general, Maj. Gen. Stephen Townsend, and his staff for helping to coordinate the visit to Julian's home," she added.

Fort Drum Soldiers presented Julian with gifts from the division to make him feel like a Soldier. The gifts included a uniform, a 10th Mountain Division banner, identification tags and a military camouflage backpack stuffed full of division memorabilia.

"When you see a second grader like Julian who epitomizes resiliency with all that he's been through, we really wanted to come down here and help him out and recognize him and let him know that we are all pulling for him," said Lt. Col. Patrick Kaune, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 10th Mountain Division (LI).

"We heard what a tough little kid you were, and we appreciate your fight and we want to recognize your bravery," Kaune told Julian.

Ritchie and the Soldiers then took pictures with Julian in his new uniform so the honorary sergeant could remember this day for years to come.

"Even though we live so close to Fort Drum, many people in central and northern New York don't realize the huge role 10th Mountain Division Soldiers play in our everyday lives," Ritchie added. "It's not just protecting our freedom; it's doing things like taking time to make people who are struggling, like Julian, feel special."