The Army lost one of its Korean War heroes. Ronald E. Rosser, Medal of Honor recipient, passed away on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, in Bumpus Mills, TN, at the age of 90.
Rosser was born in Columbus, Ohio, on October 24, 1929. He was the oldest of 17 children. He joined the Army at age 17 and served for three years. He reenlisted in 1951 after his younger brother Richard was killed in Korea. He requested combat duty in Korea and was assigned to the heavy mortar company of the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
On January 12, 1952, on a bitterly cold morning in the Iron Triangle in the vicinity of Ponggilli, he was acting as a spotter for the mortars. When Love Company of the 38th Regiment began an assault on Star Hill, an enemy machinegun cut loose, ambushing the GIs moving up the hill. Rossen heard someone say, “Let’s go.” He dropped the radio he was using, grabbed his carbine, and a fistful of grenades.
Charging ahead of the attack, Rosser dove into a trench. He then quickly killed two of the enemy, one with a shot in the head, the other in the chest. It was just then that he realized that the trench was filled with members of the Chinese enemy unit that had killed his brother Richard less than a year before.
In short order, Rosser killed five more of the enemy using his carbine and grenades. Seeing a bunker, he was able to hurl a grenade inside and shot two more enemy troops as they attempted to flee.
After running out of ammunition, Rosser ran back down the hill to the resupply point for more ammunition and grenades. Racing back up the hill, he led charges on two more bunkers. Somehow, despite American troops falling all around him, he displayed the courage to fight on until he once again was out of ammunition. Again he went to resupply and for a third time charged back up rallying the troops around him. During the battle, Rosser single-handedly killed 13 of the enemy.
Though wounded himself, Rosser ignored his own wounds. He spent the rest of the battle evacuating wounded soldiers to safety.
He returned from Korea in May 1952 and on June 27, he was presented the Medal of Honor at the White House by President Harry S. Truman.
He made a career in the Army and served as a body bearer for the double internment of the Unknown Soldier of World War II and Korea in 1958.
Another of his younger brothers, Marine PFC Gary Edward Rosser, was killed in action in Vietnam on September 20, 1966. Rosser requested duty in Vietnam. This time, the Army refused and he retired.
Rosser’s official Medal of Honor citation reads:
“Cpl. Rosser distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. While assaulting heavily fortified enemy hill positions, Company L, 38th Infantry Regiment, was stopped by fierce automatic-weapons, small-arms, artillery, and mortar fire. Cpl. Rosser, a forward observer, was with the lead platoon of Company L when it came under fire from 2 directions. Cpl. Rosser turned his radio over to his assistant and, disregarding the enemy fire, charged the enemy positions armed with only carbine and a grenade. At the first bunker, he silenced its occupants with a burst from his weapon. Gaining the top of the hill, he killed 2 enemy soldiers and then went down the trench, killing 5 more as he advanced. He then hurled his grenade into a bunker and shot 2 other soldiers as they emerged. Having exhausted his ammunition, he returned through the enemy fire to obtain more ammunition and grenades and charged the hill once more. Calling on others to follow him, he assaulted 2 more enemy bunkers. Although those who attempted to join him became casualties, Cpl. Rosser once again exhausted his ammunition, obtained a new supply, and returning to the hilltop a third time hurled grenades into the enemy positions. During this heroic action Cpl. Rosser single-handedly killed at least 13 of the enemy. After exhausting his ammunition he accompanied the withdrawing platoon, and though himself wounded, made several trips across open terrain still under enemy fire to help remove other men injured more seriously than himself. This outstanding soldier’s courageous and selfless devotion to duty is worthy of emulation by all men. He has contributed magnificently to the high traditions of the military service.”
After retiring from the Army, he worked as a letter carrier for the USPS for 30 years. He also worked in law enforcement, and as a teacher.