Staff Sergeant Ronald E. Rosser, a recipient of the Medal of Honor, epitomizes extraordinary heroism and represents the highest ideals of military service. His actions during the Korean War are a vivid portrayal of bravery under extremely challenging conditions.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1929, Rosser enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 17 in 1946. He initially served in Japan and Germany and later reenlisted to serve in the Korean War, motivated by his brother's death in the conflict.
On January 12, 1952, Rosser was serving as a forward observer for Company L, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, in the hills of Ponggilli, Korea. On that day, his company was tasked with capturing a key enemy-held hill. The assault quickly encountered fierce resistance from a well-entrenched enemy force, and the unit suffered heavy casualties.
In the midst of the chaos, with the platoon leaders wounded, Rosser took command. Armed only with a carbine and a grenade, he charged up the hill, directly into the enemy fire. This courageous act, which seemed almost suicidal, was driven by a deep sense of duty and determination. Miraculously, he reached the enemy trenches and, with unyielding ferocity, engaged in hand-to-hand combat, killing at least seven enemy soldiers.
However, Rosser's mission was far from over. After exhausting his ammunition, he returned to friendly lines to obtain more. Incredibly, he made not one but two additional charges on the enemy position, each time inflicting heavy casualties. Over these assaults, he is estimated to have killed or wounded about 17 more enemy soldiers.
His bravery and relentless fighting spirit not only inflicted significant damage on the enemy but also served as a crucial rallying point for his unit. His actions galvanized his fellow soldiers, inspiring them to renew their attack. However, despite their valiant efforts, the hill could not be taken, and the unit was ordered to withdraw.
During the withdrawal, Rosser, despite being wounded himself, assisted in carrying wounded soldiers to safety, repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire. His selfless actions saved the lives of many of his comrades.
For his conspicuous gallantry and intrepid actions at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty, Ronald E. Rosser was awarded the Medal of Honor. His citation commended his "fearless action and extraordinary heroism" that were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service.
Rosser's actions during that January day are not just a story of military heroism; they are a testament to the human capacity for extraordinary courage and selflessness in the face of overwhelming odds. Following his service in Korea and subsequent retirement from the Army, Rosser continued to be an
inspiration and a source of pride for the military community and the nation. He often shared his experiences and lessons with new generations of soldiers, embodying the values of bravery, resilience, and comradeship.
The legacy of Staff Sergeant Ronald E. Rosser is a poignant reminder of the valor and sacrifice of those who serve in the armed forces. His extraordinary feats of bravery and commitment during one of the most challenging battles of the Korean War continue to inspire soldiers and civilians alike, serving as a lasting testament to the heroism and dedication of military personnel.