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00:00:27>>I found out that about a quarter million kids tour the Statehouse
00:00:31every year.
00:00:33I thought it would be important that there would be a display at the
00:00:36Statehouse to emphasize that Ohio was the first state to get the Medal
00:00:41of Honor.
00:00:43And I offered my medal up as an example.
00:00:48>>During the civil war, the country began to establish, and the
00:00:52medal of honor was put in place to honor those people who have served
00:00:57this country very heroically.
00:01:00>>The fact it's awarded by Congress and presented by the
00:01:02president, these are great honors, but to me, the great honor of the
00:01:07Medal of Honor is the handful of wounded men who thought I was worthy
00:01:10of it.
00:01:12That's the real honor to me.
00:01:15I grew up around Roseville and Crooksville, Ohio, which is in Perry
00:01:20and Muskingum County.
00:01:22My father was a coal miner and at the start of the Great Depression,
00:01:25he was a carpenter here in Columbus, Ohio, where - that's - I was born
00:01:29here at that time.
00:01:31Me personally, I liked to go off in the woods and live for a week or
00:01:34two, maybe more, at a time by myself.
00:01:38You know, shoot my own food - when I was 13, 14, 15 years old.
00:01:42My mother had had 15 children one at a time and she was about to have
00:01:46another child.
00:01:48And so me and my brother got the heck out of that house - went
00:01:52And when we came back, my sister was out on the porch and she was
00:01:56waving her arms - one of them was, and when I got close, she said "Ron,
00:01:59Momma had twins!" And I turned to my brother and said "There goes my
00:02:03place at the table.
00:02:04I'm joining the army." I went to Fort Benning, Georgia, the parachute
00:02:08school and I went to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, North Carolina
00:02:12where I made quite a few jumps.
00:02:15And when my time was up, I got out of the army.
00:02:18I worked in the mine until my brother was killed in Korea.
00:02:21And then I reenlisted for combat duty.
00:02:24I had no idea other than what I'd seen or heard about wars.
00:02:28And I had no idea it was really that terrible.
00:02:31It was really a nightmare.
00:03:06>>(Video clip)For months death and destruction ran amuck in
00:03:11War is a wonton destroyer of property and lives.
00:03:15This shattered body, this burning hut, are tragic symbols of the havoc
00:03:20war creates.
00:03:23>>So when I got there, the company commander told me, he said,
00:03:25"Rosser," he said, "I'm gonna put you down in the 3rd platoon as a
00:03:29first gunner because you have experience." And I said, "I'm not goin to
00:03:33the 3rd platoon, Captain.
00:03:34I'm goin up on line." I served with several other units.
00:03:39I served with the American troops.
00:03:41I served with the Dutch Battalion, the French Battalion, and the
00:03:43Turkish Brigade in combat, and a little bit of the South Korean Army.
00:03:48In fact, I had my 22nd birthday with the Dutch Battalion on a bayonet
00:03:52assault on Heartbreak Ridge, and over 200 of them went down that day
00:03:57around me.
00:03:59And frankly, I didn't think I was gonna get any older either.
00:04:28Our S2, which is intelligence, was briefing us that Hill 472, which
00:04:33is 472 meters high, had probably a platoon of infantry, of enemy up
00:04:40And I listened to him for a while and finally I put up my hand.
00:04:44And my Regimental Commander said, "Can I help you Corporal Rosser?" And
00:04:47I said, "You know what he's saying isn't true, don't you?" And he said,
00:04:51"What do you mean?" And I said "There's at least a battalion of Chinese
00:04:54on Hill 472." He said, "How do you know?" I said, "I was out there a
00:04:57few days ago and they wiped my unit out.
00:05:01My regimental commander just told me to shut up.
00:05:04So I said, "OK." And the next morning before daylight, I joined Love
00:05:11As we passed the front of it, we dropped off one of the platoons hit
00:05:14the front of the mountain as a diversion to kind of move the enemy
00:05:19And the rest of us swept around the back and we lost probably 30-40
00:05:25men just getting to the back of the mountain because we were under
00:05:29heavy fire all the time, you know, mortar, artillery, and machine gun
00:05:34And as we started up the mountain, we had to fight our way through the
00:05:36trenches and bunkers on the way up.
00:05:38And when we got within 35-40 yards from the top of the mountain, there
00:05:43was only about 35 of us left.
00:05:45And all the officers were wounded.
00:05:47All the NCOs were down.
00:05:51And I got on my radio and called back to the regimental commander and
00:05:54told him we were down to about 35 effectives, about out of ammunition
00:05:57and requesting orders.
00:05:59And he wanted to know if there were any officers alive because I was a
00:06:01corporal, he wanted to talk to an officer.
00:06:03So I said, "Yes sir, we have 2 alive but they're both wounded." So I
00:06:06drug my radio over to the company commander because I had the only
00:06:09radio left out of the whole company.
00:06:12And I told the company commander, "The Colonel wants to talk to you,
00:06:16Captain." So the colonel told him "I want you to reorganize your men
00:06:20and make one final attempt to take the mountain, your objective." And
00:06:24the Captain looked up at the mountain and got a real pale look on his
00:06:28face because you could look up and see 5 machine guns and a 200 man
00:06:31burp gun line, sub machine gun line.
00:06:34And even some of the 35 that was left was wounded.
00:06:37And he said, "Yes sir." And I heard somebody say, "I'll take them up
00:06:42for you, Captain." And I realized it was me talking.
00:06:45And I tried to stop, but it was too late.
00:06:47So he said, "How are you going to do it?" And I said, "I'm going
00:06:49straight in shooting, Captain.
00:06:50I'll take the men with me and we'll go straight in shooting." He said,
00:06:53"You know you're not going to make it." And I said, "Well, we'll try."
00:06:57Several hundred Chinese machine guns and everything were shooting at
00:06:59us and knocking people down all over the place.
00:07:02And I was moving fast, really faster than the other guys, and I got
00:07:05through the crossfire and I got about 2 feet from the Chinese.
00:07:08They were in the trench and I was on the other side of the dirt and I
00:07:13looked back and I was by myself.
00:07:15And I thought, "Lord, Things aren't gonna go good today." So I let out
00:07:19a war whoop and jumped in the trench with them.
00:07:22And I jumped in on top of 8 Chinese with sub machine guns, and I was so
00:07:27close to them that I actually stuck my carbine in the first one's ear.
00:07:30Blew off the other ear.
00:07:32And one stuck a burp gun, a submachine gun in my back and I spun around
00:07:35to get him.
00:07:36And I could actually feel the bullets coming through me, but he didn't
00:07:40My mind was just accepting bullets coming through me.
00:07:44But I spun around and shot him in the neck.
00:07:45He dropped his weapon and grabbed me by the leg and I beat him off of
00:07:49And I shot him again.
00:07:50And I turned around and was running as fast as I could straight into
00:07:53the Chinese that were lined up right in this trench and I was running
00:07:56right into them.
00:07:57And shooting them and I beat two of them to death because I got on top
00:08:00of them and I just kept shooting them.
00:08:03I chased the last two into a bunker.
00:08:05And I crawled up on the bunker and I had one grenade, a white
00:08:09phosphorous, and I threw the grenade in the bunker and there was
00:08:12several Chinese in there.
00:08:13And I caught them.
00:08:15they were all burning bad.
00:08:17Even some of their ammunition was exploding.
00:08:20And I started around the corner of the trench because the trench
00:08:24And I started up the trench and looked, and here come about 35 Chinese
00:08:25at me.
00:08:26And of course I'm by myself, so I can't run because they'll chase me
00:08:28down and shoot me.
00:08:29So I charged them again.
00:08:31And I chased them around the trench, and I chased them toward two great
00:08:34big bunkers.
00:08:36One was a troop bunker and the other was probably a command bunker.
00:08:39And I was in a heck of a fire fight within just feet of the Chinese.
00:08:46And I started running out of ammunition, so I started backing up to the
00:08:49first trench.
00:08:52And I got to where I killed the first bunch of Chinese and some kid
00:08:57come running up beside of me and a Chinaman within 10 feet of us shot a
00:09:04submachine gun at us, both of us, and got him - knocked him down.
00:09:08I looked at the Chinaman and he ran.
00:09:10I guess I scared him a little bit.
00:09:13So I scooped this kid up on my shoulder and started walking down
00:09:16through the snow.
00:09:18We were in about a foot of crusty snow.
00:09:19It was about 20 below zero or a little better.
00:09:23And the Chinese were jumping out of the trench running down behind me
00:09:27trying to shoot me and bayonet me.
00:09:28But, I couldn't get away from them.
00:09:31The only hope I had was to drop the kid and run, but I wasn't going to
00:09:33do that.
00:09:35The guys down in front of me there as I was coming down toward them,
00:09:37they were knocking the Chinese down from around me.
00:09:40And I got to the artillery forward observer, and he was already shot in
00:09:43the chest and lost all of his people.
00:09:45And he was firing on them with a rifle and covering me.
00:09:48And I had 13 or 14 hand grenades and I got several magazines off of my
00:09:52radio man, who, he was already wounded too.
00:09:55And I started back up the hill myself.
00:09:59And the Chinese were up there waiting on me.
00:10:01And I had my rifle slung on my shoulder.
00:10:05I pulled the pin on two hand grenades and was carrying two live
00:10:07grenades in my hands holding the spoons down.
00:10:09And when I got close, a couple of them raised up to shoot me, and I
00:10:12just threw one of my hand grenades.
00:10:14Instead of shooting me, they all looked up to see where the grenade was
00:10:17It went right in the trench with them, and it busted them up pretty
00:10:23And as I got close to the trench, I kicked the spoon on the other
00:10:26grenade and dropped it in on their wounded.
00:10:28And I kept running.
00:10:29I was trying to get to these two big bunkers where all these Chinese
00:10:32were, and I had to shoot my way through about 20 Chinese just to get to
00:10:38I finally got close to the first bunker.
00:10:41It was a really big bunker.
00:10:42And it was full of Chinese.
00:10:45A lot of them had run in there to get out of my way.
00:10:47And I took a white phosphorous hand grenade and backed up to the door,
00:10:51pulled the pin, and kinda kicked the spoon and flipped it in.
00:10:55Then I started chasing Chinese all over the place.
00:10:58All at once, I looked, and here come Chinese coming at me from
00:11:02Close to a couple hundred coming at me, and they were close.
00:11:04And I couldn't get away from them because I was in the middle of them.
00:11:11And so I took a white phosphorous grenade and pulled the pin and kicked
00:11:15the spoon and threw it in the air above me.
00:11:17This stuff comes down like burning fire - streamers.
00:11:20And I was on the outer peripheral of it, and I was ducking streamers as
00:11:23they come down around me.
00:11:25But it was right on top of the Chinese.
00:11:28And as soon as I thought most of it hit the ground, I went running
00:11:30through the stuff.
00:11:32And when I come out the other side, there was three Chinese standing
00:11:34there wondering what the heck was going on.
00:11:37And I got up and started walking down the trench again.
00:11:39I was picking up wounded men as I went.
00:11:43So I went back and patched up a couple more wounded men, loaded up on
00:11:45grenades again, and went back up on top of the mountain and started
00:11:48throwing hand grenades into the Chinese trenches and everything.
00:11:50Because they were trying to bunch up and hit us, and I was trying to
00:11:52break them up.
00:11:54Finally, I went down and told the Captain, "Captain, if you don't get
00:11:56your people out of here now, you're going to lose everybody." And he
00:11:59said, "Can you get them out?" And I said, "Yeah, I'll get them out for
00:12:01you." So I made all of the walking wounded - and everybody was wounded,
00:12:05including me. I'd been hit twice.
00:12:08And I made every one of them drag men down the mountain.
00:12:14There were some tanks that got through down there.
00:12:16They couldn't get people up to us because the firing was too heavy, so
00:12:20we had to shoot our way back to the tanks with our wounded and load
00:12:23them on the tanks.
00:12:25Me and four guys stayed up on top of the mountain to hold the Chinese
00:12:28off while we picked up our dead and wounded.
00:12:31When we'd cleared the mountain as best as we could, me and the other
00:12:35boys turned around and just walked off the mountain, and the Chinese
00:12:37never fired a shot at us.
00:12:39I think they were glad to see us go.
00:12:42I went back to my bunker and about three days later, my company
00:12:45commander called me and he said, "Corporal Rosser, do you know you're
00:12:48in for the Medal of Honor?" I said, "No sir, I didn't know." And he
00:12:52said, "Well, you are," He said, "These people are all in the hospital
00:12:56back there and they're talking about you even while they're getting
00:12:58taken care of.
00:13:01But they don't even know your name." So I said, "Well, maybe you'll
00:13:04tell them." And so they told him what my name was, and all these
00:13:07wounded men put me in for the Medal of Honor.
00:13:12And so right after I got put in for the Medal of Honor, a couple days
00:13:16later, my regimental commander called me up and said, "Ron, I gotta
00:13:19take you off the line.
00:13:20You're in for the Medal of Honor now." And I said, "I'm not coming off
00:13:22the line, Captain." So I never left the line until the first of May.
00:13:27And that was the middle of January.
00:13:33They took my unit down to guard about 250 thousand prisoners down on
00:13:41I rotated home from Koji-Do by ferryboat into Pusan, and in Pusan, I
00:13:45boarded a troop ship and back to the states and landed at Camp Stow in
00:13:54There they held me until they took me to Washington to get the Medal of
00:13:58The government would pay for six of my family - my wife and stepson,
00:14:03my mother and father, and one of my brothers and one of my sisters.
00:14:06But my father's employer paid for everything.
00:14:10Took them down on the Greyhound bus and everything with a couple
00:14:12drivers and reporters from WHIZ and the local newspaper.
00:14:18They took me over to the White House and took me over to the Oval
00:14:22Office to talk to the President, and my whole family was there.
00:14:27Harry Truman walked us out into the Rose Garden, and in front of
00:14:32microphone and in front of all these people, presented myself and this
00:14:38other soldier from the third division with the Medal of Honor.
00:14:44I spent a good part of 21 years in the army, and I had many tours.
00:14:52I was reenlistment NCO for the 101st Airborne, and from their I went
00:14:55on recruiting duty.
00:14:58I retired while I was on recruiting duty.
00:15:02Actually, I retired because they wouldn't send me to Vietnam when my
00:15:05brother, other brother, was killed.
00:15:07I went to college, picked up my degree, and became a schoolteacher.
00:15:11And while I was going to college, I was Chief of Police down in
00:15:12Florida, among other things.
00:15:17And when I graduated, I became a schoolteacher.
00:15:20I taught school for several years.
00:15:22I've known every one that received the Medal of Honor and lived all
00:15:25the way back to include the Spanish American War, The Boxer Rebellion,
00:15:30The Philippine Insurrection, The Punitive Expedition Against Pancho
00:15:33Villa, Veracruz, The Banana Wars, the men from the First World War, I
00:15:41knew the men who went down in the experimental diving bell and got the
00:15:44men off the submarine Squalus in deep water. They all received the
00:15:47Medal of Honor.
00:15:49All the men from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and I know the wives of
00:15:56the men who got the Medal of Honor in Iraq and Afghanistan.
00:16:00So, we're just like - If there's ever such a thing as a Band of
00:16:03Brothers, we're it.
00:16:06In fact, I've been back to Korea.
00:16:10I served two tours over there and since I retired from the army, I've
00:16:14been back ten times since, to Korea.
00:16:17I've been invited by the Korean government several times to go over and
00:16:19talk to the Korean people.
00:16:22They get a little excited about looking at American soldiers for 50
00:16:25some years, you know.
00:16:27They wonder why we're still there.
00:16:29So the Korean government invites me over, and I talk to the Korean
00:16:32people on radio, television, whatever.
00:16:35I tell them why we came and why we stayed.
00:16:40That today we are guests of the Korean people, and when the Korean
00:16:45government and Korean people ask us to leave, we will leave with honor.
00:16:49Until then, we will do our duty.
00:16:52So I like that.
00:16:54I tell them we're guardians on the frontier of freedom, and they like
00:16:59that too.
00:17:01I've thought about it over the years and the truth of the matter is I
00:17:04don't think I've done anything that anybody else hasn't done.
00:17:08I done what I thought was my duty.
00:17:13I'm not going to let the enemy kill our wounded for any reason, even if
00:17:15I have to lose my own life, I'm not going to let them do it.
00:17:21And most soldiers are like that.
00:17:24I've tried to live a life of honor.
00:17:25I wasn't always successful, but I always tried.
00:17:28I did things I wasn't really happy about, including during the war, and
00:17:35I've tried to make up for it.
00:17:42I hope when I pass on this world, somebody will say that I was a decent
00:17:49That would be good enough for me.
Note : Transcripts are compiled from uncorrected captions