Medal of Honor Recipient Ronald Rosser – Oral History

you you I come from my large had 17 children and she had 15 children and they eight girls and seven boys and she was about to have another child so my brother and I we we went downtown to get away from this thing that goes women tend to make a lot of noise when they have children and so when we came back my sisters were out on the porch waving her arms and when I got close my mother said or my sister said Ron mama had twins and I turned to my brother and I said there goes my place is a table I'm joined in the army and a week later I have left for the army and became a career soldier my first one prey everybody with the cleaner uniform assumed to be in charge I was the the lower part of the totem pole so to speak the and go along climb up to the top again I the army for a short time and my brother he enlisted and he was one of the first people into Korea and he was wounded within the first two weeks of the Korean War starting and then in February the tamp he was killed in action with the 1st Cavalry Division and ivory enlisted and for combat duty Korea and the army was very kind about it then they sent me there and they assigned me to heavy Motor Company because I had a background of dealing with the four-pointed motors and my company commander told me I he was going to put me in the 3rd platoon as a first Jenner and I said no captain I'm going up on line and he said explained you know he was in charge and I would go where he told me and he said you're going to third Platoon I said captain I'm not going to 3rd platoon in the other platoon I'm going online he said no you're not and I said I can't think of a way you can stop me and so within five minutes I was assigned as a radio man for a Ford observer and three days later when he went down I became the fourth observer and I stayed as a fourth observer for the entire year I had eight radio operators in lost seven to them and was personally wounded four times myself job was to protect the men on a battalion front I had 12 12 guns and I had the most firepower in the regiment and they for the most part I guarded the front line but when units were selected to make deep penetrations I when I went along as a Ford observer in fact I went out the day before Christmas with 73 of us without six of us got back alive and I was the only one who wasn't wounded the 18 days later I went out with a reinforced rifle company 170 men and when we got within a Saudi position at the top of the mountain the first trench we fought our way through a lot of trenches and bunkers but one of their main trenches was about 15 yards from down from the top and the I led the last 35 men up against the three battalions of Chinese who were dug in there and when I got to well the Chinese were in the trench and I was on the other side of the dirt the best way to explain it and I looked back and I was by myself that all the men had been knocked down behind me and I remember thinking I went through a lot of trouble to get here I know you're wasting the whole day let out a wild war hoop and jumped in the trench with them and I engaged on a whole bunch of Chinese in clothes and a in combat and they actually credited me with 13 in in that trench I I took out quite a few more than that but the men weren't presidents are saved because I was up for myself and I finally ran out of ammunition and went back down the mountain about 35 yards so that didn't moon did picked myself up a lot of hand grenades and as much ammunition as I could carry and when after begin by myself and I blasted him away through the second line of Chinese about a 200 man burp gun line and five heavy machine guns and I got in amongst him as the best way to say it and engaged about 200 Chinese and close hand-to-hand combat they were actually jumping on my back and beat me with rifles and all kind of stuff you know they and then they were piled on me the best way to say it and I beat him off of me and killed those that that you know did it did pile on me and they would went across the top of the mountain there screaming and hollered and shooting him Percy a negatives kind of scared him to death they try they were shooting at me from four or five feet away with submachine guns that couldn't hit me and I just charged straight into them are shooting and and as I go across the France I'd shoot three or four of them and keep going and the I finally run out of ammunition again and went down and and it couldn't get any more ammunition for my carbine so I loaded up at a hangar and age' went up and hit him again and I was trying to keep him off the wound at all our wounded was laying all over the side of the mountain dead of wounded and they were trying to bunch up to slip down and kill her wounded and the purpose of me doing all that crazy stuff was really to stop him from doing that the the I engaged a lot of Chinese again and they broke up they're attacked and finally I got back to the company commander and he was badly wounded and told him I said captain if you if you don't get your people out of here you're gonna lose them all and so he asked me to take him out I organized them in and and had to walk a moon to drag the dead wounded out and I picked four men to hold hold their Chinese off until they were all wounded men to hold the Chinese off until we could get her people out and finally we got everybody out we could find and one of the boys come up and told me where he said he was we got everybody we can find so I said told the kids I said does get the heck out of here boys for where they get us and so we may get up started walking down the mountain and the Chinese never fired another round at us and people said why didn't he shoot at you again I said personally I think they were glad to see us leave the we go he was causing a lot of trouble with them and three days later they recommended me for the Medal of Honor they I personally didn't even know what it was they were just just a medal and I have no idea had no idea of value or really what it was so when I finished my tour year I they sent me to Washington and President Truman presented me to Medal of Honor basically what happened the I didn't I'd never done anything heroic I all I was trying to do was protect the men that I was responsible for the and that's what I did best I could first thing he said he said the bright lights I hear is killing my eyes he said I'm gonna put all my specs from down in South you know down on the keys they they wore down there and kind of tickled as you know the President had to change his spec story get her to read her citation and then he told her she said I'm not sure you fellas know what's happening to you but he said he said you're too received you're receiving the Medal of Honor and he said personally I'd rather received that to be President but I think he said that to a lot of people the but he talked to us for quite a while and finally said that he had to go back to the Oval Office and take care of some business and told us just to stay in place and and to be interviewed and some elderly gentleman walked up to me and he said sergeant Rosser he said your you have the Medal of Honor he said from this day on he said all officers are required to salute you and I said you kidding me never heard of such a thing you know and he said I'd like to be the first to salute just you know likes you man as a corporal then and he said Kobayashi I'd like to be the first to salute you and he saluted me and I returned to salute and I always felt good about it because his name was Omar Bradley the but and my whole family was there watching this thing you know I'm the older son of seventeen children and all of them that was alive there was there to see it when treating my mother dad and grandmother grandfather and it's kind of kind of scared me to think you know that all this honor was going to come on me and and my greatest fear would I would do something that would bring dishonor upon what was happening so like I said and kind of when it was over sedan and kind of decided you know that whatever I do I'll never violate the owner and I've tried to do that through you know the rest of my life the I guess and I was ended up as an instructor to parachute school and this thing come along here the barrel the unknowns and I was the first one selected to be a buddy bearer and I was selected by the secretary defense Mack mr. McNamara had to be the muddy bear the unknowns and to present the flag of the unknown soldier to their vice president Richard Nixon and now that unknown to me that all that was decided before I left Fort Benning Georgia the kind of Anderson thing you know that being in place like this and watch this happens the a lot of people made mistakes and we covered him up a just like the president putting the Medal of Honor is on the laying among the flag American flag and you don't do that if they had little little stains to lay the flag of the medals home and for some reason he laid him on the laid him on the caskets and our people just moved in like what life was planned picked him up put him where they were supposed to be saluted and went back to their place beside of the president and nobody never knew the difference the so we prepared herself about anything you know that might happen and a lot of things did happen the they trained us with caskets full of sand and there was so much sand in there we couldn't even carry the casket and we made him take this finally made him take the sand up because the body is you know we're just a handful of bugs mostly and they would made him take the sand out there and so we can make it look good before the public because the in World War one they did the casket would move it in all kind of directions and we made sure that the casket stayed the level at all times the was quite an experience probably the greatest experience of my army career a I even I even felt stronger about being selected to be the body Bearer the unknown than I was to receive the Medal of Honor they brought first of May in 1958 and the ceremony took place e30 May 1958 and we we rehearsed every aspect of what was going to happen and the long before the bodies were brought in and then they had a selection sir ceremony from all over the world they went to all the cemeteries in Europe and selected several unknowns and then when one of our people went over and selected one of them and the rest of them were reburied then he was loaded on destroyer came across the Pacific to the Panama Canal at the same time they went through all the World War two cemeteries in the Pacific and they selected several who were unknowns and they brought them out and one of our people selected what are those and the rest of them were reburied then and they selected an unknown from the Korean War and from different different cemeteries even in Hawaii and we kept moving all the bodies around different groups of us until nobody knew like in World War two even what part of the world the body came from and we moved the Korean body so that nobody would know what cemetery had came from and then one of our people made the final selection of the Unknown the world war two and the second one we buried at sea oh then they brought him into the Navy ship yard and we picked him up but then took him to the capital and world war two was placed on the lincoln catapult and the the next day one of our teams went over and changed him over to the korean body to the lincoln catapult then the next day we were back a move to be moved world war ii back to the lincoln catapult and then got ready to bring the bodies from the capital into Arlington National Cemetery and we walked the whole way the with the bodies I had the World War two body up until the final internment then they moved me over to the Korean bodies bigger so I could make the presentation to the vice president it's kind of the way it went the it was well planned other than the colonel who commanded the old guard they they selected in nineteen in the Secretary of Defense selected nineteen Evers from all the different services and the colonel told us that he was going to take twelve of us out of the nineteen it said the rest of them back and I put up my hand and he said yes or no sir and I said sir we've already talked this over and it's a very important thing in her life and we're all want to participate so we're all going to participate in this thing and he he said Sarge no sir we've already made plans to send some of you people back and I said aye sir I when he told me he said if I open my mouth again he was going to send me back to Fort Benning and I said well I hate to mention this sir but if you you cut orders on me you have to cut eighteen other sets of orders and and he said what do you mean and every one of those men stood up and said if he send any of us back you send us all back and make another selection and we had already been selected by the Secretary of Defense McNamara and the colonel a little upset but he left 15 minutes later he came back and he said it's been decided y'all shall participate and so the from that time on we were in charge nobody else was allowed to touch them or even get near him and we took care of everything and it was done right they we were in the capital and when the first howitzer fired we picked up the bodies carried him down the steps of the capital placed upon the on the Gurney's for the walk to Arlington and as we as we came through this one area there they had all the they had all the 105 they're firing blanks and every time and they fire a blank every what every minute and we never done that fire blanket horses that jump about six feet in the air you know and almost almost locked you down and we a lot of trouble to try keeping the horses under control and but we finally got that done – and we actually put a feed bag on them are so that they would give him something to think about besides of the guns going off you know my best way to sad we were prepared for about everything yeah I wanted to make sure went right because it was a great honor to be selected for this remember somewhere between noon and 2:00 o'clock I would say and once we once we presented the flags we were dismissed from the because our part of the ceremony was over the in the next day because we want to be part of this their money we changed protocol is this way to say it and the 19 men paid for plaques and we presented him had a big ceremony here at Arlington with all the honor guards and everything head of the Military District of worship and the Chiefs of Staff of everything Congress and everybody was here and we presented the plaques to the head of the cemetery we who carried you to your final resting place you know carried you with honor this type of thing I'm not sure what always said it was a long time ago but we tried to make that impression that we we thought it was a great honor the we selected her personally we selected those men who were best qualified physically to make the March and to carry the caskets those are men that who had been badly wounded some of the middle of honors and some of the other people we gave him the other other jobs to do so that they'd feel part of it like bringing them in off the ship here at the shipyard and we would moving them in from the different catapults and so forth and other little things that needed needed to be done and we had them do it and the ones that who were in the best physical shape because most of us had been badly wounded him one time or another and we we selected the the 12 they were best physically qualified to make the march and and to take care of the all this stuff but the presentation itself was already pre-planned a master sergeant named Ernie kuma from the Korean War World War two and the Korean War made the president patient to President Eisenhower and he went over made the presentation and as he turned children and turned to walk away the flag was handed to me and I I made the turn and as he stepped from the Vice the president I moved to the vice president made my presentation that was all like clockwork and we'd rehearsed it for a month to do this stuff and because we wouldn't to make it look good I said the same thing you would say to the next of kin you know sir this is the flag of the Unknown Soldier and I mentioned the honor and so forth and the flag is now in your custody as the next of kin of the unknown something of this nature is as the way we put it and made the presentation saluted very slowly and took about failure you know step backward about-face went back to our position on the grave and but if it was a well-rehearsed thing and the ones of us that were so I could made sure that it was done right in fact we even pretty much took control of it from the old guard who was responsible for it because we didn't want to make a mistake and we wanted to keep as many people out of the process as we could you know then cut down on any mistakes it might be it might take place it's kind of interesting a bunch of sergeants you know was telling Colonels and generals of the way it's going to be the I was kind of the ringleader of that group they because there's a great honor and I went I personally wanted to be done right as you get older then you realize you know what you've done and survived it the you realize that you carry a an honor that represents a lot of people that doesn't represent you you just happen to be there in the process of doing this stuff but in my case almost every man we had a if I remember a hundred or 90 men killed in 12 misses an action and 68 wounded every man was killed wounded or missing with my group my company and what I then was represented my company and the men who served with me the I didn't do anything that they didn't do I just was lucky enough to survive it the nice way boys felt the I represent loved company of the 38th Infantry they and most of us feel that way we represented the people that were with us that didn't make it because they tried the same thing we did to do their job the courier was a very nasty place anyhow and album number 10 to 20 to 1 and the in our case we had a hundred hundred seventy men and we took on three battalions of Chinese the close combat they not the kind of thing you'd want to do every day they were dug in and we were coming after any open is cut us to pieces I feel I just represent love coming near to the 38th and what they tried to do that day which was their job but they were signed to do and that particular job happened to be to put the enemy out in the cold destroys and destroy his winter installations and we did a lot of that but I didn't get didn't get a lot of it because it was all over the mountain from all the different services it was kind of interesting the that the other NCO was on my team I went on to become the sergeant major of the hundred and first Airborne the young Marine who was on my team became the sergeant major of the Marine Corps they everybody seemed to move into higher you know do well over this way to say it the I was crippled up and I went on recruiting duty and became a top recruiter in America at one time the and because of my involvement in this particular assignment and the and my assignment with the the barrel of Albania work and other things I was involved in I was selected as the outstanding soldier of the American army which I thought was kind of silly you know the negative it just as easy picked anybody to do the same thing I just I was always seemed to be lucky and get interesting assignments they and I've had the honor of being at the White House under every president since Franklin Roosevelt and most have many times for different reasons I always wonder when the honors will cease I guess when they bring me to the cemetery they I know when I was here the Arlington's said they were gonna hold a place open for me just down below the Timothy and and but I decided I'd be buried with near near my family so this will probably be my last time it i become darlington the i've seen most of it visited the museum's and seen of the things that we left behind and that i always remember there was a what an honor it was to be able to do something like that they and every man that was with me felt the same way just the opportunity to participate change the way you thought about everything I wish I remembered all my life you know that that was I was part of it and I tried to keep in touch with a lot of the people that were involved in it that others some of them were killed in action some died the as far as I know I'm the last the last of the Buddy bears the unknowns

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