- Associated Press - Sunday, November 12, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A 93-year-old North Carolina veteran of World War II has gone skydiving for the first time.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that Doug Gross joined the Army during the war in 1942 with plans to become a paratrooper, but instead was assigned to become an artilleryman.

Now, 75 years after he enlisted, Gross celebrated Veterans Day on Saturday by making his first jump at Triangle North Executive Airport in Louisburg.

Gross served in North Africa, Italy and Germany and rose to the rank of technical sergeant. He also had a successful career as an agriculture professor at North Carolina State University.

His first jump was a tandem skydive with an instructor from the Triangle Skydiving Center.

“It was great,” Gross said afterward. “It was worth the wait.”

He made the jump with three of his children and a grandson. Other family members were cheering from the ground. He said he hopes to do a jump again soon.

Gross said he was 18 and sitting in class at Rutgers University in New Jersey in 1942 when a classmate showed him a military recruitment leaflet. Both got up in the middle of the lecture to enlist, drawing the attention of the professor.

“He said, ‘Well boys, where are you going?’” Gross said. “We said we were going to go enlist.”

Gross recalled that the professor responded: “‘Well, good luck.’”

After serving, Gross returned to Rutgers to finish his degree. He became a professor, and moved to Raleigh in 1956. He served as a professor of crop science at N.C. State until he retired in 1990.

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