SEAL Team commander, son of Blues player is M1 recipient

M1 for Vets Project suspends fund-raising, donates $5,000 to VFW

By Dave Marner, Managing Editor
Posted 9/14/22

The son of a former St. Louis Blues hockey player, and commander of a Navy SEALS unit in Iraq, was the Aug. 21 recipient of an M1 Garand rifle presented by the Owensville Gun Club’s M1 for Vets …

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SEAL Team commander, son of Blues player is M1 recipient

M1 for Vets Project suspends fund-raising, donates $5,000 to VFW

Posted

The son of a former St. Louis Blues hockey player, and commander of a Navy SEALS unit in Iraq, was the Aug. 21 recipient of an M1 Garand rifle presented by the Owensville Gun Club’s M1 for Vets Project.

Commander Robert A. Gassoff, Jr., of St. Louis, was the recipient of the 168th rifle presented by the Missouri M1 for Vets Project. The Owensville Gun Club and VFW Post No. 6133 have been sponsors of the project and have provided financial support for chaperoned trips where recipients of rifles have had the chance to participate in national shooting matches staged by the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

Gassoff’s presentation ceremony at OGC included the presentation of $5,000 from the project to VFW Post 6133 in appreciation of the support of the project which has taken wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on terror to shooting matches in to Camp Perry Ohio, Pheonix, Arizona, Talladaga, Alabama, and Arcadia, Oklahoma near Oklahoma City. John Colombo, director of the Missouri M1s for Vets Project, said the board’s unanimous decision was to give excess funds raised over the past couple of years for use as the VFW Post determines. Due to the COVID pandemic, national matches were cancelled and the Missouri M1s had no trip expenses for more than two years. The group has some rifles stockpiled for future presentations and has ceased fund-raising efforts for the time being.

VFW Commander Michael Stillman accepted the check for $5,000 from Colombo during the Sunday morning ceremony. 

Colombo also noted during the presentation that due to the end of both conflicts, there will eventually be no need for awarding of rifles to Missourians wounded in combat or during overseas deployments. The Missouri M1s for Vets Project is an offshoot of a national project designed to help wounded veterans of these wars remain active in shooting competitions.

Bob Gassoff, Jr., was born two months after his father’s tragic accidental death in a motorcycle crash in Franklin County on Memorial Day weekend in 1977. He would be raised surrounded by support from his late father’s Blues teammates. He went on to play collegiate hockey at the University of Michigan where he shared a NCAA national championship season in 1998 with his Wolverine teammates.

His professional hockey career included stints with St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks minor league affiliates. At the age of 26, he enlisted in the Navy and was accepted to the Officer Candidate School in Florida and completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in late 2004. 

He was deployed on SEAL Team 7 assignments in 2005 in the Philippines. He was named as a platoon/squad commander of SEAL Team 7 during 2007 and 2008 deployments to Al Anbar province in Iraq.

He stayed in the Navy reserves and has served as an operations officer and executive officer. He was the commanding officer of NR SOCCENT and NR SOCSOUTH and NR SEAL Unit 17. He has also been a liaison for the National Geospatial Agency and supported the agency’s Cell and Warfighter Support Division. 

He is the owner and president of Lohr Distributing in St. Louis which is the exclusive wholesaler of Anheuser Busch products in St. Louis and also a statewide wine and spirits wholesaler.

His girlfriend, Amy George of St. Louis, accompanied him for the presentation ceremony.  Gassoff has three children, Bobby, Mia, and Olivia.   

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