He Re-Enlisted for Revenge After His Brother Died. Then He Killed Almost 50 Enemies in a Single Battle.
With rare exceptions, the American warfighter is known for his bravery under fire. Yet some tales are so outsized as to be almost unbelievable – but they are all absolutely true. This is why we launched the American Heroes series of stories.
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As the oldest of seventeen children, Ronald Rosser always looked out for his brothers and sisters. He joined the Army right after turning seventeen in 1946 and served for three years. In 1951, he reenlisted because his kid brother was killed early in the Korean conflict and he was bent on revenge.
On January 12, 1952, Corporal Rosser was a forward observer with the 38th Inf. and directing mortar fire while his company assaulted a hill held by a Chinese battalion near the town of Ponggilli. Despite his supportive fire, the Americans continued to take heavy casualties. By the time they reached a point about a hundred yards below the crest of the hill, only 35 of the 170 who had begun the battle were still able-bodied.
When the commanding officer, badly wounded, used Rosser’s radio to call headquarters for instructions, he was ordered to try once again to take the hill. Seeing that the officer was in no condition to carry out the order, Rosser volunteered to organize the remaining men and lead the charge.
As he made his way up the hill, he realized that he was alone, but was determined to make the enemy pay for his brother’s death. Armed only with a carbine and a grenade and screaming like a wild man, he plowed on through the snow, oblivious to the heavy fire all around him. Reaching a bunker in which 9 Communist soldiers were crouching, he shot one of them in the face, then whirled and killed another one who had a machine gun trained on him. He then jumped into the trench and killed 5 more of the enemy. When two escaped to another bunker, Rosser followed them and threw his grenade inside; he shot both as they emerged from the explosion.
Rosser moved on to another trench line and killed five more Chinese soldiers. His ammunition finally exhausted, he went back down the hill to resupply himself by stripping rifle magazines and grenades off dead GIs, then climbed the hill again. He threw a grenade into the first trench he came to, killing 7 more of the enemy, then moved over open ground, firing at every Chinese soldier in sight. When his ammunition was gone again, he repeated his resupply trip down the hill, then returned a third time to continue his one-man battle.
After more than an hour of fighting, Rosser organized a withdrawal of his decimated company, ordering those who could walk to take a dead or wounded comrade with them. He calculated that he personally had killed more than 20 Chinese with grenades and another 28 with rifle fire.
Rosser returned to the States in May 1952 and announced to his mother that he had avenged his brother’s death. After being awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman on June 27, 1952, he decided to stay in the Army.
In 1968, he lost another brother, this time in Vietnam. When he requested assignment to the combat zone to even his personal score once again, he was refused. “If something happened to you, even by accident, it would be hard to explain,” his commanding officer told him. Rosser retired from the Army soon after.
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.
H/T Zero Foxtrot