Korean War Legacy Project

Ronald Rosser


A veteran of World War II, Ronald Rosser was working at a coal mine in southern Ohio when he found out a younger brother had been killed in action in Korea in February 1951. Immediately re-enlisting in the service, he became a Forward Observer and took part in the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge. His action in combat led to him being awarded the Medal of Honor by Harry Truman. He shares about his experiences in Korea, including some of the killing and injuries that occurred. He is very proud of his service in Korea, and amazed at how modern the Republic of Korea has become. He is optimistic about reunification of the Korean peninsula in the future.

Video Clips

No Longer an Enemy

When he was asked if he would shake hands with Chinese soldiers today, Ronald Rosser explains how he already has. He states that as a teacher, he taught about East Asian history and then went to visit Beijing. He explains how well he was treated by the Chinese and how he does not believe the hate should continue.

Tags: Chinese,Communists,Impressions of Korea,North Koreans,Pride

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Modern Korea

Ronald Rosser describes how South Korea has changed since his time there during the war. He explains that the roads, high rises, and many other aspects of the country have changed. He shares about his affection for the Korean people, including donating money to start an orphanage.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Orphanage

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Medal of Honor

Ronald Rosser explains the Medal of Honor, the highest award an American can receive from Congress. He received the award from President Harry Truman. He shares that nineteen men in his division received the Medal of Honor though only four of them had lived.

Tags: 1951 Battle of Bloody Ridge, 8/18-9/15/,1951 Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, 9/13-10/15/,Home front,Pride

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Part of My Job

Ronald Rosser’s job was to protect the American soldiers while also killing the enemy. He served with other Americans as well as with Korean, Turkish, Dutch, and French soldiers. He explains that while he killed many people, it was part of his job and necessary for survival.

Tags: Front lines,Pride

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The Forgotten War

Ronald Rosser explains why he believes the Korean War is called the “Forgotten War”. He shares that Korea’s place between World War II and Vietnam contributes to it not being as recognized. He recalls how the soldiers came home after fighting and went right back to work.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,Pride

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Combat Victories and Injuries

Setting the record for hand-to-hand combat, Ronald Rosser shares how he killed twelve people through this method. He remembers getting wounded in his foot by shrapnel during Heartbreak Ridge. He recounts some of his dangerous incidents during the war.

Tags: 1951 Battle of Bloody Ridge, 8/18-9/15/,1951 Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, 9/13-10/15/,Front lines,Weapons

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

R:        My name is Ronald E. Rosser.  I was born in Columbus, Ohio.  The, uh, when the Korean War broke out, I was working in the coal mines in southern Ohio and, uh, my kid brother at that time, uh, he was already, he was in the Army hadn’t got out, and he was, got in the Army and, and he arrived in Korea in the, in July of 1950 and was wounded in August, and


with the 24thDivision, and he went to the hospital in, in, uh, Japan, and when he came back they put him in the 1stCavalry Division, and he was killed in action, uh, at a place near Chipyong-ni, uh, in, uh, uh,

I:          So he went back again to Korea?

R:        Well, he’d just come out of the hospital, and they, they needed people so they put him back in, in combat with the 1stCavalry

I:          Oh, right from the hospital?

R:        Yeah, from the hospital, uh huh.  and he, uh, he was killed in action


in February of ’51.

I:          February ’51.

R:        Um hm.  Just south of Chipyong-ni.

I:          Um hm.

R:        That big battle they had there.  And, uh, they, uh, and because of him getting killed, I re-enlisted in the Army cause I’d got out for a short time.  [Abrupt start] In June of 1951,

I:          June of 1951.

R:        Um hm.  And, uh, they stopped, stopped me in Japan and put me in the 187thAirborne Rocketsan and, uh,


I got out of there very quickly and, uh, so by the, toward the end of July 1951, I was, I was up in, uh, North, in North Korea with the 2ndInfantry Division. [Abrupt start] We caught a boat from Japan over and then caught the train up to, uh, uh, (Wachan)Reservoir and, uh, from there, they sent me up to the 2ndInfantry Division.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And, uh, and I became a forward observer if you know what that is.

I:          I don’t know.

R:        I called the firing on the enemy.

I:          Um hm.


R:        Mortar fire, heavy mortars.

I:          Yeah.

R:        Big mortars, and as a forward observer and, uh, they, uh, on, I, my first battle was up near the Punch Bowl just north of the Punch Bowl

I:          Um hm.

R:        And then from there I went into what you call the Bloody Ridge and, uh, for about six weeks a very bloody battle and then, then I, my unit went in and took an outfit or the place called


Heartbreak Ridge. And, uh, and the first three months I was there, my unit, Second Infantry Division lost over 6,000 men.

I:          So that’s the period of trench war, right?

R:        Well, we were, we were moving north.

I:          Moving north.  But you didn’t really move forward

R:        We were straightening out the line really.

I:          Right, right, yes.

R:        Straightening out the line.

I:          Yes.

R:        Moving forward, uh, they’d take the high ground but and, uh, get control of the area.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And, uh, so, uh, I was


involved in the Battle of the, what you call the Heartbreak Ridge.  It’s a central front, and, uh, uh, it was probably a great deal of action right there.

I:          Right.  So before we get into the details of those battles, I want to ask you this question. Were you aware of Korea when you leave, left for Korea in 1951?

R:        Oh yes.

I:          You know where it, Korea was and

R:        Oh yes,

I:          what’s going on?

R:        Um hm.

I:          So you are the extra very exceptional because of the Korean war veterans that I have interviewed,


they didn’t know where Korea was.

R:        Oh, I knew exactly where it was at.  The, in fact, the, uh, the Army had an occupation over there in, uh, in the middle right after the second World War.

I:          Right.

R:        A lot of people don’t realize that.

I:          Right.

R:        But we had an occupation Army there.

I:          From 1945

R:        Um hm.

I:          To 1949.

R:        Um hm.

I:          July, all Americans withdraw

R:        Um hm,

I:          Korean oppression.

R:        That’s right.

I:          Yeah.  Yeah. So you were aware of what’s going on there, and how do you feel about it?  What was your sort of motivation, if there


was any, or

R:        To go there?

I:          Yeah.

R:        I went there because my brother was killed in action.

I:          Right.

R:        And that’s kind of a, a revenge type thing, after I

I:          Um.

R:        gonna kill a lot of people.

I:          Um.

R:        They, uh, and I ended up doing just that.

I:          So could you give me details of what sort of, uh, uh, battle and combat you were engaged and how you were, uh, wounded in all of that.


R:        I was wounded in the foot in, um, in, uh, early August of 1951 and, uh, then in early October of ’51 I was hit in the upper leg with shrapnel from hand grenades and, uh, then in January of 1952 I got hit two more times up in the Kumhwa Valley, the Iron Triangle.  The, uh, but, uh, uh,


in the bloody and Heartbreak Ridge I was involved in a great deal of close end fighting.  In fact, uh, I’ve kind of set the record for hand to hand combat.  They, uh, from the American Army.  I’ve actually killed 12 people in hand to hand combat.  They

I:          So almost like in two month you got wounds and after wounds, right?

R:        Yeah.

I:          And you were fully recovered from it?

R:        No, I took care of it myself.

I:          You took care of yourself?

R:        Yes.

I:          Are you medic?

R:        No.  But I know a lot about this stuff.

I:          Um.

R:        The, uh,


in fact where I, where I got hit through here, I dug it out myself with a, with a knife.

I:          Wow.

R:        Yeah.

I:          So could you give me some detail how you got wounded in 1951 in August

R:        Alright.

I:          in your foot?

R:        I did, a piece of shrapnel from hand grenade, uh, hit me in the front of my ankle, and, uh, put a cut on the front of my ankle that kind of cut up my boot pretty good.  Uh, wasn’t a serious thing, uh.  It, uh, uh, didn’t bother me very much.  I mean, it kept getting infect d when I’d move my foot,


you know, getting cracked open all the time.  And then in

I:          October.

R:        In October I

I:          Upper leg.  Yes.

R:        Yeah.  I got hit, uh, up on Heartbreak, and the [INAUDIBLE] of the Heartbreak through the leg, and I dug it out myself, put a little, put a little sulfa on it and a little bandage and went on back to business.

I:          What was the battle?  Where?

R:        Heartbreak Ridge.

I:          Heartbreak Ridge.

R:        Yeah, it’s what they called the Heartbreak Ridge.

I:          Uh huh.

R:        It was a major battle.

I:          Um.

R:        Uh, the Korean War in the Central Front.

I:          And it was between Chinese and American, right?


R:        No, no.

I:          It was

R:        It was between the, the Americans and the North Koreans.

I:          North Koreans.

R:        Blood Ridge and, uh, Heartbreak Ridge were both North Koreans.

I:          Only North Koreans, not Chinese.

R:        Only North Koreans.  At the very end, at the very end of the Battle of the Heartbreak Ridge,

I:          Um hm.

R:        the Chinese, uh, would start moving in brigades and, uh, the, uh, and on the last battle, the last day of the battle, uh, me and another guy took out about, about 1,000 Chinese with mortar and artillery and, uh, drove them back.


And, uh, we were able to take, take our objective there and, and start a defensive line.

I:          And January 1952,

R:        January 1952

I:          At Kumhwa Battle, right?

R:        Yeah.  And up in the Kumhwa, uh, Valley, I was in several things up there.  Uh, the day before Christmas I went out with 73 men on a deep penetration, uh, going into near, Pyongyang, you know, which was a, the high point of a, par, you know, the Iron Triangle.


We shot our way up almost into the, almost into Pyongyang, and we were overrun out there and, uh, of the 73 of us went out, 6 of us finally got back alive, and I was the only one that wasn’t wounded.  And, uh, we ended up swimming down a river in the middle of the Kumhwa Valley

I:          Um hm.

R:        with the Chinese running down both banks throwing hand grenades at us and shooting at us with sub, sub machine guns.  They, uh, and I, I made it out, uh.  There was about 20 of us got into the river out of the 73,


and, uh, 6 of us got out alive.

I:          Wow.

R:        Yeah.  They, uh, then 18 days later I went out with a reinforced rifle company, and our objective was to take a battalion outpo, Chinese battalion outpost, and, uh, they, uh, the, uh, battle was pretty fierce the best way to put it.  Uh, we fought out way up this mountain, and when we got within about 35 –  40 yards at the top of the mountain,


out of the 170 of us that started out, there was 35 of us left, and, uh, some of them were already wounded.  And, uh, all of our officers were gone.  Our, our Sergeants was gone and, uh, in, in a kind of reality, I became the Company Commander, and I was a Corporal.

I:          [LAUGHS] Corporal Commander.

R:        Yeah.  And I led the last 35 men, uh, on a straight charge into the Chinese, uh, lines,


uh, you know.  They had an excess of 1,000 people there, and I took 35 men straight in against them, and they knocked all the guys, other guys down, and I ended up about that far from the Chinese and, uh, I looked back and I’m by myself, you know, cause I leading them in forward, and I wasn’t looking back.  And, uh, when I, uh, I seen I’m by myself, I thought well, I went through a lot of trouble to get here.  No use wasting a whole day and so I let out a war whoop and jumped in the trench with them.


And, uh, I ended up killing a lot of people, a lot of people.  They, uh,

I:          Were you thinking of your brother?

R:        Well, early on I was thinking about kind of revenge. But, uh, I spent a lot of time around, you know, the fragmented families of the Korean people, and I kind of forgot about that.  Yeah. Me, I was fighting for, you know, my unit and the Korean people,


[INAUDIBLE] what I was involved in.  And, um, my job, my job was to protect the Americans and take out the Chinese and the North Koreans, and that’s what I did.

I:          How was the relationship you, with your brother before he left for Korea?

R:        Oh, we were great.  See, my mother had 17 children.

I:          What?

R:        Yeah.

I:          17?

R:        Yes, 17 children.

I:          Out of one marriage.

R:        Yes, uh huh.

I:          And

R:        And two of my brothers were killed in action, one in Korea and one in Vietnam.

I:          Vietnam.

R:        Yeah, and I was supposed


to do four times in Korea and, uh, the, uh, not seriously but four times.  And, uh, they, uh,

I:          So where are you were in that higher of 17.

R:        I’m the oldest son.

I:          Huh?

R:        I’m the oldest son.  I had one sister older than me, and all the rest of them, 15 were younger than me.

I:          So your brother was younger then.

R:        Yes.  Uh huh. And also I had another brother killed in Vietnam.

I:          Um hm.

R:        Um, they, uh, so, uh,


I was in amongst it was the best way to say it and, uh, I, I took out a whole trench full of Chinese, uh, by myself.  I was shooting them and beating them to death with my rifle and, uh, took out a machine gun with a white phosphorous hand grenade, went around the corner of the t rnech and, uh, and charged about 35 more Chinese engaged them and had almost hand to hand combat.  And, cause the first trench I, I was fighting with hand to hand combat and beating them to death with my rifle and, uh, they, uh, yeah.


I killed as many as I could and go run out of ammunition.  So I, I went back down the mountain and picked up, uh, some young kid that was, uh, laying there wounded by the trench.  He made it up almost to me, and I picked him up and threw him on my shoulder and started walking down the mountain with the Chinese running down behind me trying to, trying to bayonet me and shoot me.  But, uh, I didn’t do nothing about it and I had no ammunition, so I just ignored them and kept walking.  They, uh, I got down and put a bandage on this kid and then crawled around and got me some more ammunition,


a lot of it, and I went back by myself again and, uh, this time I took on about 200 Chinese in close hand to hand combat.  They were actually jumping on my back and grabbing me by the leg trying to tackle me down, and I was beating them off of me with a rifle and everything, and the, uh,

I:          I feel like I’m watching movie now.  I’m not listening from you.

R:        Yeah.  They, uh, uh, I actually killed a lot of people that day plus I took out about 200 mortar with, with mortar fire and tank fire that day.  I killed a lot of people that day,


and, uh, the men that survived from this company, uh, that I was attached to that day, uh, they all recommended me for the Medal of Honor.

I:          Were you scared?

R:        No, too late to be scared.  A dude was jumping on my back. [LAUGHS]  No use being scared.  Too late for that stuff.  They, no, I, I, I was, I was used to close hand fighting, you know.  I wasn’t worried about it.  Uh, I mean I wasn’t all that happy to be there, but, uh, I wasn’t worried about it.  I never seen anybody I couldn’t take.


I:          We going to continue on some of the, uh, other stories, but when did you left Korea for the United States?

R:        I, uh, my unit was pulled off the line and sent to Geojedo,

I:          Uh huh.

R:        they guard the prisoners down there.

I:          Yes, yes.

R:        And, uh, and I rotated from home, from Geojedo and, uh, back to Pusan and then back to the States and, uh,

I:          When was that?

R:        In, uh, the first of June of 1952.


I:          Okay.

R:        And, uh, when I got, when I got back in the States, they notified me I had been awarded the Medal of Honor.  They, uh,

I:          What was the, uh, what was the exact description awarding you the Medal of Honor?

R:        Uh, that I had, uh, I killed a lot of Chinese. They actually gave me credit for at least 13 because the Americans never got higher than the first trench,

I:          Um hm.

R:        and I, I swept over about 50


yards of the top of this mountain by myself.

I:          By yourself.

R:        Yeah, by myself.  The, uh, I ended up in, I killed, I killed, probably killed at least 50 myself that day, uh, plus a couple hundred or more that I took out with mortar fire and tank fire.  They, uh, have no way of knowing, you know, for, for sure cause you don’t count people, you know.  Uh, but there were a lot, a lot of Chinese there, and, uh, I, I handled them all by myself.


I:          Could you explain the Medal of Honor to the audience who will have access to your interview and possibly with some, some of the photos, and that would be mostly young generations in the website, so could you please explain?

R:        Well, the Medal of Honor is the highest award America can give.  Uh, at the

I:          From, is it from Depart, Department of Defense or from

R:        No it’s, it’s awarded to you by Congress.

I:          Congress.


R:        Yeah.  By Congress and presented by the President of the United States.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And, uh, which happened the 27thof June, 1952

I:          Um hm.

R:        I was, I was at the White House and awarded the Medal of Honor by Har, President Harry Truman.

I:          As soon as you returned from Korea.

R:        Yeah.  Um hm.

I:          Yeah.  Yeah.

R:        And, uh, the, uh, uh,

I:          Do you know some statistics that how many Korean War veterans got this Medal of Honor?

R:        There was, uh,


originally 137

I:          Um hm.

R:        and only a handful of us lived.  They, un my Division, 19 men got the Medal of Honor, and only four of us lived.  One of them died right after he got home from his wounds.

I:          Um.

R:        So three of us out of 19 really survived, and two of them got the Medal together, and they, they lived, I don’t know, about 12, 12-14 years, and then they both died

I:          Um hm.

R:        for some reason.  Almost about three months apart.


They, uh, and I’m, I’m the last living one from the 2ndInfantry Division which was the highest casualty unit for the Korean War.

I:          Hm.  But

R:        My job, my job was to protect the, uh, battalion front, uh, of American soldiers and, uh, my job was not only protect them but to kill the enemy,

I:          Um hm.

R:        and, uh, they, uh, I actually served with the Korean Army there as a forward observer also and, uh,


they, uh, uh, involved in combat with the Korean, you know, with the Korean Army.  And, uh, the, in fact I, I served in combat with every rifle company in the 38thInfantry Regiment of the Second Division plus the South Korean Army plus the Turkish Brigade plus the Desk Battalion plus the French Battalion.  I served in combat with all these people.  I was a soldier that did my duty as I saw it.  They, um, uh,


I didn’t do anything that anybody else didn’t do, uh.  I just got myself in a bad situation one day and, uh, in fact several days, and had to shoot my way out of it.  The, uh, I ended up killing a lot of people.

I:          Um.

R:        I mean, a lot of people.

I:          Have you thought about that fact that you killed so many people after you coming back?

R:        No, it didn’t bother me none.

I:          No.

R:        I think it bothered them some.

I:          Um  hm.

R:        Yeah.  They, uh, but I was a forward observed, and that was


my job.  The, uh, and the, I killed so many because I was, I survived everything, you know.  A lot of the Americans we killed, uh, almost all of them would be gone around me and, uh, I’d wait, sometimes left there almost alone and I kept fighting.  I never stopped.  Uh, the, it’s just the way it was, you know.

I:          How

R:        I grew up, I grew up with this big family, and anybody that bothered one of my brothers, I, you know, took care of them. They hit one of my smaller, one of my sisters, they better leave town


cause I, you know, I’d hurt them bad, yeah, and I grew up that way.

I:          Um.

R:        Yeah, I worked in the coal mines and I grew tough, you know, and, uh, and wasn’t afraid of very much, not even the enemy.

I:          Um.

R:        In fact, combat is the, is the most desperate thing you can get involved in.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And a lot of cases, like a night mare [Abrupt start] I think probably the most difficult thing was right after I got there and trying to acclimate myself to this, what was going on.  They, uh, you’re not trained for this kind of fighting.

I:          Um.

R:        Uh, you have to train yourself.


So I taught myself to, you know, shoot like pointing your finger, you know, and, uh, and most of the time I didn’t have to worry about it because the enemy was from here to you from me, and, uh, they, uh, uh, uh, actually probably the hardest thing I ever, uh, had to put up with was to lay my rifle down and leave it there

I:          Um.

R:        because I was a forward observer, and I’m supposed to call firing on the enemy, and you pick up your rifle, you become a rifleman. You, you can shoot three or four people, but as a forward observer, you got to kill 100 or a thousand.


And, uh, so my, the hardest thing I had to learn was to leave my weapon alone

I:          Um.

R:        you know, and do my job as a forward observer. They, uh, it was hard to do, you know, with the enemy on, on top of you.  And so I grabbed my rifle and go, go to the fighting all the time.

I:          Um.

R:        The, uh, uh, I was just one of those guys that, uh, acclimated himself to war, you know.  They, I was hard, physically hard, from working in the coal mines, and my brother was killed,


and that was hard up here, and I, you know, I’m an old paratrooper, Rocasan, you know, and, uh, they, uh, and I’m well trained to this kind of stuff.  Uh, see, as a paratrooper, the fight don’t start till you’re surrounded. [LAUGHS]  And I’m, I’m uh, I’m the old paratroopers.

I:          Um.

R:        In fact, I’m the only one, one of the few men alive who’s, you know, with the World War II gliders.


They, um, uh, I did a lot of things in my life.

I:          On the other hand, what was the most rewarding moment during your service?

R:        Probably when a handful of young men thought I was worthy of, you know, being, uh, receiving the Medal of Honor.  They, uh, the Medal of Honor in itself is a great honor. They, the fact it’s


awarded by Congress and presented by, uh, the President, those are honors.  But to me, the real honor of this thing that a handful of young men who were with you at a difficult time thought you were worthy of it and, uh, yeah, I’m sure you people, your soldiers thought the same way about your medalist.  But, u h, I’ve had the President of Korea personally tell me that because of people like me, and a handful of people like me, 50 billion people who walk the face of this earth cause three people,


and here just a couple years ago, the Korean Ambassador to America down at the Pentagon said the same thing about me, you know, the

I:          Who was the President?

R:        Park Chung-hee.

I:          Park Chung-hee.

R:        Yeah.  I had the, uh, the Korean Ambassador a couple years ago here at the Pentagon said that in 1950, Korea was a poor, backward nation, and today they’re the 15thlargest economy in the world, and he said I attribute that to my hard work for the Korean people and people like Sergeant Rosser who fought


to the death. [Abrupt start] Well, the first time was 1975.

I:          Sev, ’75.

R:        Yeah.  And then about every two or three years after that.  [Abrupt start] Well, uh, it’s not like the Korea that I, I fought in.  Uh, you know, there was no, no little dirt road, you know and, uh, super highways and, like the road from, uh, Camp Casey down to Seoul, you know.  One time when I went there, it was just a little narrow road.  Now it’s a major highway.


I:          Yes.

R:        The, uh, uh, the, uh, you, you don’t see any straw huts anymore, only, uh, some of them like a museum area and, uh, there are some of the old people, or they were farmers [INAUDIBLE] kept theirs.  Uh, mostly they keep their, you know, animals in it, you know.  They, uh, and, uh, the high-rises on the Han River is unbelievable.

I:          Um hm.

R:        They, uh, and I, you know, I’ve had Korean people tell me about how they built these houses.  You buy one of these things, costs a lot of money, but you get some of it back.


and all this kind of stuff, so.  They have, uh, good systems over there and, uh, the, uh, uh, probably the only, only race of people in my whole life, and I served all over the world, you know,

I:          Um hm.

R:        Uh, that I had great affection for was the Korean people other than the Americans.  They, and sometimes I’m in doubt about the Americans.  They, uh, you know.  We got some old, nasty people in this country, you know, that are not safe to be around.


But, uh, I’ve always had affection for the Korean people.  They, uh, in fact, this hatred I have for the, even for the North Koreans after they [INAUDIBLE] My brother was killed, uh, that all, that kind of stuff just disappeared.  You know, when I see the fragmented families of these, you know, these Koreans, uh, children, you know, without, without hope and, uh, in fact, I, uh, in, I think it was November of ’51, uh,


I took what money I had saved when I was over there,

I:          Um hm.

R:        and donated it to start a, uh, you know, a, uh,

I:          Orphanage?

R:        orphanage down in Uijeongbu

I:          Uijeongbu, yes.

R:        Yeah,

I:          Yeah,

R:        Uh huh.  They, and my Regiment, supported that, that, uh, orphanage, uh, and I

I:          What was your rank at the time, in 19

R:        I was a Corporal.

I:          Corporal.

R:        Yeah.

I:          So you received about $75 or so?

R:        Well, actually I probably got, uh, probably got a little closer to $100 counting overseas pay and something like that.

I:          Um hm


R:        But it wasn’t significant.  They, uh, when I, uh, I couldn’t spend it on nothing,

I:          Um hm.

R:        and, uh, so when I came home I still had like five months’ pay coming to me cause I didn’t even bother to get it out cause I couldn’t spend it on nothing, and, you know, it was just something else to carry around.  The, uh, uh, ah, I did a lot of things that were there, you know,

I:          Hm.

R:        that, uh,

I:          Give me some examples.  Give me some

R:        Well, I already explained to you this little boy I picked up.

I:          Yes, yes, yes, yes, yeah, right


R:        That, he wasn’t really a little boy.  He was probably 16 years old, and I didn’t really realize that at the time.

I:          Where was it?

R:        I’d pick him up up in Kumhwa.

I:          Kumhwa, yes.

R:        Kumhwa area, and I took him down to my, my company, Company Rear and, uh, you know, to try to get him in a safe place, and, uh, you know, try to get him fed, and I, I got him, finally got him fed at gunpoint, you know,

I:          Um hm.

R:        and, uh, they, I promised this Sergeant, you know, that I was going back up on the line, you know, and


when I came back he’d better fatten this kid up a little bit or I was gonna shoot him anyhow.
I:          Oh.

R:        Yeah, Cause I’m, I was a pretty mean fella back in them days.  And, uh, the, uh, and this kid when he, I think he was about 17 years old when he was taken into the Korean Army, but he was in a lot of sense wealthy by Korean standards cause we gave him a lot of money, you know, for doing things and everything, and I gave him a rifle with some ammunition, magazines and ammunition,


and, uh, when, you know, he, he’d set up at night guarding my bunker.  They, uh, and, he went to Koran Army and when, uh, in 1975 when I went to Korea

I:          Um hm.

R:        uh, they told me that, uh, that, uh, Park Chung hee had, or not Park Chung hee, (Yi Tae Goo, Yi Tae Goo) was his name and, uh, I’m not sure how to properly spell it and everything, but I remember that was his name.


I:          The boy that you picked up, his name is (Yi Tae Goo).

R:        The little boy I picked up when he wasn’t a little boy anymore, and he was an officer in the Korean Army and,

I:          Um hm.

R:        And he retired, uh, sometime later from the Korean Army as a full Colonel in the Korean Army.

I:          But  did you meet him in person in 1975?

R:        No.  I, yeah, I, I, through intermediaries, you know, I got in touch with him,

I:          Ah.

R:        you know, in touch with him and, uh, uh, a, uh, Korean General there, you know,


took care of, you know, getting in touch with him for me.  [COUGHS] And, uh, you know, I hadn’t been over for quite a long time, and I haven’t tried to, you know, find him.  They, uh, I just haven’t been there for several years.  The, uh, uh, the last time I was in Korea was, or next to last time, was 2001, uh, when they hit the towers.  I happened to be in Korea when they hit the towers

I:          Um.

R:        and, uh,


from there I went to China, Beijing, China there, just cause I couldn’t come home.

I:          When you go back to 2001,

R:        Um hm

I:          and if you can contrast or the com, compare, two different pictures of 1975 and 2001, did you see the big difference?

R:        The big difference was you had a country.  You absolutely had a country, and you had a stable government, uh, a, um, and the people were


safe is the best way to put it.  They, uh, they had troubles, you know,

I:          Um hm.

R:        from up north and everything.  People

I:          Um hm.

R:        you know, coming back, back through there. But, uh, for the most part the Korean had a safe country.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And, uh, and all of them realized it.  But, uh, they, uh, I went back there to make a speech to the, you know, uh, at Camp Casey,

I:          Um.

R:        and, uh, they had a bunch of ambassadors there and, uh,


this, the first four-star general of the Korean Army was there, and I remember him, and, cause I’d, I’ve been with him several times and, uh, in fact, if you retire from the Korean Army as a general officer of that nature, this four-star general will give you a poster that’s got him on it, it’s got the dragons and the

I:          Yeah.

R:        and all that stuff on it, you know,

I:          Yeah.

R:        and, uh, he, the, uh, it’s got  a picture of the General on there, and it’s got a ge, a picture of, uh,


of, uh, Van, General Van Fleet

I:          Van Fleet, yes.

R:        Uh huh.  And they got my picture

I:          No.

R:        down at the bottom, yeah, and, uh, so, uh, the artist that drew this thing, he autographs it, I autograph it, and when the General presents this to the retiring general, he autographs it.

I:          Uh, unrecognized or unpopular and called Forgotten War.  Why?  Why [INAUDIBLE]

R:        Korea got caught in


between two wars; the Second World War and Vietnam and, uh, uh, it was by the kill ratio, not very many people got killed there.  The, overall, 54,000

I:          Right.

R:        And, uh, uh, killed in action or died as a result of something and, or died in the prisoner of war camps or starved to death or whatever it was and, uh, but Korea just got caught between two other wars


I:          Hm.

R:        and, uh, they, and the boys came home that went over, did their, did what they could and came home and went to work and, uh, for the most part Korea was a bitter fighting, not only for the American Army, for the Korean Army.  Um, they had some bad, very bad moments in the South Korean Army there, uh, you know, where they, cause they were hit hard.  Uh, and so was the Americans.  The, uh, but we learned to cope with them a little better than, than the Koreans did because we were better trained at that time, um.


They, they trained a, they trained us here in America, but they didn’t train us right to tell you the truth, uh, because nobody’s trained for this kind of fighting

I:          Um hm.

R:        up in the mountains and the closer to combat. They, um, but, uh, uh, we, we were able to ad, adjust a little better and, uh, they, uh, but today, the Korean Army is absolutely outstanding.  It has been for many years, absolutely outstanding.


The, uh, uh, they served with us in a lot of places around the world and, uh, they’re highly thought of.  Very disciplined people.

I:          Um.

R:        They, uh, and I, I’ve respected them all my life. We, uh, I, you know, I, I came from this large family, and I always wondered how America would, would act if we got caught in the same situation as South Korea and how my family, what would happen to my,


this large family of mine if we didn’t have a strong people there to, you know, get you out of it. The, and that’s what Korea had. Korea, uh, the reason you had like Park Chung hee who became very strong cause you needed a strong leader.  Uh, they, uh, we can’t have a strong leader once you stay strong

I:          Um.

R:        you know.  They, uh, and just like in America, you know.  We, we elect people and sometimes they’re strong.  But we also kick them out, too.

I:          Yeah.  Yeah.

R:        Yeah.  And


I:          That’s a democracy.

R:        Yes, that’s democracy.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And Korea has a, uh, has a democracy, but it’s not exactly like our democracy, uh.  And if we had a, a place like North Korea where Canada is today, we would, we would be acting a little different, too.

I:          Um hm, um hm.

R:        We would be looking for strong people.

I:          Um hm.

R:        Most of the Korean War veterans that I, I’ve had to deal with have been back to Korea,

I:          Um hm.


and if they were like me, they absolutely would be amazed that you’re changing the country. You don’t, you don’t wind up a mountain any more.  You go through it.

I:          Right.  [LAUGHS]

R:        And, uh, the, uh, and everything’s modern. You know, when we were there, it was a, like the, uh, the, uh, Korean ambassador to America said.  In 1950 it was a poor, backward nation.  [INAUDIBLE] Everything was just like 19thcentury, actually probably 17thcentury, you know.


They, the old houses, mud houses, you know, mud and straw houses with a straw roof and everything, uh.  But they were very good.  I happen to, I happen to know you stayed a lot warmer in them than you do in this, in this hotel for crying out loud.

I:          Um hm.

R:        The, um, and the food.  They didn’t have, Korean people didn’t have refrigeration like us.  But they knew how to preserve food in the ground like the winters kimchi and all this kind of stuff, you know.  They, um, I got where I liked that pretty well.  Uh, my daughter was in Korea,


uh, served in Korea. My granddaughter served in Korea. Uh and, uh, so it’s kind of a family thing with my, my personal family, you know, that, uh, the place to go if you’re going in the military cause, you know, serve your first tour in Korea.

I:          So how many children do you have?

R:        I have one daughter, two grandchildren and two great-children.  They, um, uh, the Army don’t want somebody to give them 17 children.

I:          Um.

R:        you know, uh, so you can have one or two


or three children, and the Army don’t think very, anything unusual.  But when you start having a whole bunch of kids that they gotta support and they, they’re not gonna be too happy about it.  So, you know, um, uh, besides, you didn’t make enough money to support that many children in the Army.

I:          Hmmmm.

R:        They, uh, yeah, you know.

I:          I know about military family

R:        Yeah, I know, yeah.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And, uh, we, we stick together.  The American soldier sticks together, uh, and we take care of each other including our families.


I:          Um hm, um hm.  Let me ask this question.  You killed many Chinese and many North Koreans.

R:        Um hm.

I:          Would you be willing to shake hands with those Chinese if they are live.

R:        Already have.

I:          Or North, oh, you did?

R:        Oh yeah.

I:          How? Remind me.

R:        In 2001,

I:          Uh huh.

R:        I was in; I was in [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Beijing.

R:        Seoul, Korea and I went

I:          You said Beijing.

R:        And I went to Beijing, China

I:          Uh huh

R:        and the, and when I got there, they knew who I was, you know/

I:          Really?


R:        Oh yeah.

I:          How?  Did you inform them?

R:        No.  They knew. They met me at the plane when I got off the plane.

I:          Oh.

R:        You know, and advised me not to talk about the politics or the war.

I:          What brought you to the Beijing?  Just for sightseeing?

R:        I couldn’t get home.  I couldn’t get home.  I’m a, I’m a school teacher, a history major and, uh, you know, and I used to teach, uh, or, Ornamental, or Oriental History,

I:          Uh huh.

R:        and, uh, China, Korea and everything, you know. Heck, I used to teach about Sin Yung Shin and all of these,

I:          Right.

R:        and the Chinese leaders and all that stuff and, uh,


So you just go there to visit without being invited by any Chinese organization?

R:        No, I just, I just, I had to go someplace and, uh, so I decided not to stay in Korea, I’d just, while I had a chance, I’d go visit China.

I:          Oh.

R:        and, uh, the Chinese invited me to all kind of places, uh, wined and dined me so to speak and, uh, I had the funny feeling here was, here’s people


that I killed with a, dozens actually by my, we’d said by the hundreds

I:          Um hm.

R:        And all [INAUDIBLE] I, I’m, I’m eating with these same pe, same age people and,

I:          They were the Korean War veteran in China.

R:        No, these were the younger Chinese

I:          Oh, younger Chinese.

R:        And the older Chinese, even some of their high ranking officers, they’d look at me kind of funny, but, uh, they didn’t say nothing to me and, uh

I:          Um hm.

R:        they, I, I had an opportunity to talk to all these people, and uh, you know, the war’s over,


and shake hands and be friends.  And that’s what, my attitude about the whole thing.

I:          Would you do the same thing with North Koreans?

R:        I believe I would.  I have no hatred for them people.

I:          Um hm.

R:        The, at one time I did and, uh, and, uh, this kind of hatred will eat you alive.  You can’t go around hating people.  They, uh, they have a different kind of philosophy and a different kind of government, and their people fight for what they believe, and I fight for what I believe.


And, uh, I hope I win, and they hope they win.  The way it works.

I:          You been talking many aspect of your service, and I think that, you know, I can summarize, but if you’re asked to summarize the impact of the Korean War upon your life, given, especially after you came back from Korea, how would you describe it?

R:        The, um, because of what I was involved in and what I was decorated for,


I do things that people dream about.  The, uh, I’ve been at the White House under every President of the United States since Franklin Roosevelt in 1945.  I’ve been to the White House under all these people.

I:          Did Obama invite you?

R:        Oh yeah.  I’ve been to, with Obama three times and, and decided that this past March that I didn’t want to go down to the White House again and, uh, you know, I was tired of going there, you know, cause I’ve been there many times.  They, under every President, uh,


and, uh, uh, I go places that’s hard to get into, uh.  When I was in Russia for crying out loud, they, uh, the Russian people and the Russian high officials treated me like a, a visiting dignitary.

I:          Um.

R:        We had admirals and colonels and everything else with me, and they, they don’t [INAUDIBLE] them.  They only to me because of what I was doing.  The, uh, I had special program that I did, uh, you know, to make us get along better.  And, uh,


you know realize, you know, we’re one in the same people, uh, and we are.  We’re one in the same people.   We look a little different, but everybody looks a little different, even in my family we look a little different.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And, uh, they, uh, and I think people ought to get along.  They, uh, and, that’s what I, when I go to schools and I talk to schools all over the United States, some place, sometimes all over the world, and, cause I go everywhere,

I:          Um hm.

R:        and, uh, I talk to these people,


and I tell them about honor and responsibility

I:          Um hm, um hm.

R:        And, uh, the dignity of being a, a decent person.

I:          Um hm.

R:        The, uh, no matter who you are.  I, I’ve, I’ve said the same thing in Korea.  I go to, I, I’ve been to Korea and talked to the Korean people many times and, uh, I tell them, I said, uh, to me, I’m, I’m almost like being at home when I’m here.  I said you people have been a great part of my life.  A great part of my life.  And I’ve always respected you people.

I:          Um.


R:        They, uh, uh, sometimes it’s not been, you know, uh, real easy.  But, uh, you know, cause sometimes, everybody don’t think alike, you know?  And, uh, I mean, we could set here and talk this and I’m sure we’d find things we’d, we’d differ on very quickly.

I:          We, we had, we have to accept a mutual differences,

R:        Um hm.

I:          Right? Yeah.

R:        Yeah.

I:          And respect for it.

R:        Yeah.  Um hm. Res, respect each other.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And treat each other with honor is the way I think.

I:          Since you been teaching in the K-12


stem about this, uh, Asian History, do you realize that in American History book there are not many pages on Korean War?

R:        Oh, I knew that.

I:          Uh huh.

R:        Well, there’s not many pages on a lot of things anymore.

I:          [LAUGHS]

R:        Uh, the, uh, uh, they, they don’t teach a lot about wars and stuff anymore in schools.  Uh, unless you take special courses in college.  They, uh, they’re more interested in preparing you for the electronic age.

I:          Um hm.

R:        This kind of stuff.  Same thing in Korea, you know.

I:          Um hm.


R:        Yeah, I heard the same thing in Korea.

I:          Yeah.

R:        I’ve been to, I’ve been to some of the factories in Korea, too by the way, and been to their scho, your schools and all this kind of stuff, and they, uh, I find it delightful, really, that, because we’re more the same than different, the truth.

I:          Yes.

R:        Truth of the matter is.

I:          Um hm.  So what do you think we have to do to pass on this legacy of Korean War veterans to the, our young generations?

R:        I think it’s happening right now.

I:          Um hm.

R:        Uh, the Korean War


veterans, the, this right here, uh, they hold the Korean people in very high esteem, and you know why?  Because the Korean people hold them in high esteem, and uh, I think it’s great.  I really think it’s great.

I:          Um hm.

R:        The, um, a lot of these people when I came back, you know, they had a difficult time adjusting and everything.  war’s a bitter place, and Korea was a bitter war.

I:          Um.

R:        Very bitter war.

I:          Right.

R:        Close fighting and everything, you know.  They, uh,


hadn’t even had the President of the United States here tell me that, you know, Sergeant Rosser, it’s my understanding that you’ve killed a lot of people in hand to hand combat, and I said yes sir, that’s true.  But none of it was my idea.

I:          Um hm.

R:        [INAUDIBLE] you know.  I had to do, you know, they were on top of me, and I had to do something, you know.  And, uh, every soldier does that.

I:          Um hm.

R:        They, um, they kill to survive.  You, you,


you kill to take care of your people, uh, that’s with you, uh, and you don’t have time to really think about what other people think.  I think the Communists have a very bad, bad outlook on life.

I:          Um hm.

R:        I think that.  I really believe that.  They have a very bad outlook on life, and, and they’re gonna have to change their philosophy quite a bit, you know, to really move into the, the rest of the world. But, uh, until they do, uh, let them live their own life.


I:          That’s our cause, right?

R:        Um hm.  I think eventually that North and South Korea will be one nation.  Uh, maybe not in my lifetime.   Maybe not in yours, but eventually it will be one people because that’s what you are.  You’re one people.  [Abrupt start]  I think what we’re looking at is like a man and his wife that’s not getting along very good, and, uh,

I:          That’s a excellent metaphor.

R:        And neither one wants to give up their, their point of view.

I:          Um hm.


R:        Uh, what’s gona hav, have to happen is this country would, North, North and South Korea would unite tomorrow if the Korean people, North Korean people, would be in charge.

I:          Um hm.

R:        They would unite tomorrow.  But we don’t want

I:          But not in a way

R:        Yeah, in a way it’s gonna happen.

I:          Right.

R:        And so, uh, these people have to realize that what they have, what they’ve done has only left themselves in really a bad position in the world. I, you know, even


among their own people, uh, they, they have a, they have some serious problems, uh, both economic and, uh, whatever else, you know.  A lack of freedom is a better way to put it.

I:          Um hm.

R:        Uh, so somebody, nobody up there in North Korea can say I’m gonna do this or I’m gonna do that.  They have to have permission to even think that.  And, uh, and it’ll never be you, you’ll never be one country while the Communists


control the minds of the people.  They, the people’s gotta be free to make up their own mind.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And when that happens, when the people of North Korea gets free to make up their own mind, then we’re, we, this, don’t worry about the leaders, uh, you know, cause they’re really irrelevant, you know. They come and go, you know?  They die off and, and, personally I think it’s really most of the generals of North Korean Army that run that country anyhow, not, not this fellow that’s in charge now.  I don’t


I:          Kim Jong-un?

R:        Yeah, I don’t think he, I don’t think he’s in charge of anything.  I think he’s lucky to keep his head on his shoulders.   They, uh, but, uh, that’s my personal opinion.  They, um, but, uh, when the North Korean people can say I can make up my own mind what I wanna do, the South Korean peoples already come to that.

I:          Um hm.

R:        They don’t, they wanna, they wanna make it one country, but not at the cost of their freedom.  And, uh, that’ll never happen.  That’ll never happen.


The, uh, North Kor, North Korea’s the one that’s gotta change their philosophy really, not you pe, not you people, and you’re all the same people.  It’s kind of funny about that.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And you’re all the same people, uh.  In Vietnam, in Vietnam they had two different people.

I:          That’s right.

R:        You had the (Konkanese and the Cochinese).

I:          Um hm.

R:        But in Korea, there’s one people.

I:          Yeah, that repeats everywhere.  It’s in the United States.

R:        Yeah, uh huh.

I:          We had a civil war here

R:        Um hm.

I:          and, you know, North and South fought


against each other, right.

R:        Um hm.

I:          So, I mean, as a final comment, anything that you wanna say to young generation or your junior here, that’s sitting beside you out of your service, honorable service during the Korean War?

R:        I think, I think the American, the American soldier, the American soldier does hisself a great honor when he serves in Korea because it’s a


very historic place. It’s a very, you know.  It’s the hermit nation.

I:          Um hm.

R:        You know, the land, the land of the morning come

I:          Um hm.

R:        you know, Choson, the land of the morning come and, uh, I think the American soldier is, is, it’s a great honor to serve there.  I, I’ve served there a, a lot, and I think it’s a great honor to serve there.  The, uh, uh, the Korean people are making a, making a bad situation,


trying to work it out, uh.  They need help from the other side, uh, and until they, they say well, you know, we’re gonna forget about all this silly stuff and be, be a nation, then it’ll never happen.  But, uh, I think, if I was to say to the Korean people one thing, don’t give up hope.

I:          Um.

R:        But it is gonna happen.

I:          Um.

R:        That these two people who are one people

I:          Um hm.

R:        have to live apart because of a few people there that want it their way.


Um, but it, it’s gonna happen.  I, I, I’ve said to the young people of Korea, you know, just keep your hope up and, uh, and work toward it cause it’s gonna happen.

I:          Um hm.

R:        And when they, when the North Korean people realize that South Korea has their best interests at heart, then it’s gonna change.

I:          Yes.

R:        Until, until that, the, the North Korean people themselves are able to make up their own mind,


uh, it’s not gonna happen.  But it is gonna happen, uh, sometime in the near history and in this, probably in the next 10 -20 years that’s one place gonna disappear as a, a Communist nation.  [Abrupt start] We’re professional soldiers of a different era.

I:          Right.  But could you introduce yourself, your last name and how do you pronounce it?

N:        I’m Master Sergeant Nicholas Psaki.  The Pis silent.

I:          Saki.

N:        So it’s like the drink, but it’s


I:          Um hm.  [Laughs]

N:        kind of a little different.  It’s spelled different.  Um, I, I, I served in Korea in the 2ndInfantry Division in, in Camp Hovey in (Toporie)right next to Camp Casey by Dongducheon.

I:          Uh huh.

N:        And, uh, it was, it was extremely interesting for me.  I grew up in a military family.  My father was in the Army.  He was an Infantryman.  My grandfather was a, a paratrooper in World War II and in Korea

I:          Um.

N:        and then became an aviator and fought in the Dominican Republic and in Vietnam.


I:          Please tell me about your fat her and, um, Ronald Rosser, your relationship.

N:        Well, ah, they were both paratroopers in the 82ndAirborne Division, and they were both in the 187thRegimental Combat Team

I:          Um hm.

N:        But as far as we can tell, they’ve never, they’d never met each other.

I:          Um hm.

N:        My grandfather passed away two years ago.

I:          Um hm.

N:        Um, so this shows that it’s a, we have a saying that it’s a very small Army.

I:          Um.

N:        despite the fact that there are, you know, have been at times millions of us.  We all know somebody who knows somebody who knows the guy we’re talking about.

And we all go to the same places, and we all are in the same units.  We train in the same, at the same bases, um. So the chances are we’ve served with somebody who knows the other guy.  It’s, uh, it’s, it’s a family.

I:          Um hm.

N:        And in a lot of ways as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been in the Army for 18 years, I look at veterans from the Vietnam War and the Korean War and World War II and I really start to think of them as if, they’re not my, my direct blood grandparents.

I:          Um hm.

N:        But I’m definitely their son.

I:          Um hm.

N:        And everything that we have become as the United States Army is very much a product of everything that they learned and taught us. Um, it’s very humbling.

I:          Um.


[End of Recorded Material]



A picture of Ronald Rosser in December of 1951 in Kumhwa, Korea.

A picture of Ronald Rosser in December of 1951 in Kumhwa, Korea.

Ronald Rosser ( R ) with President Truman and fellow soldier when both being awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House, the highest award to a soldier.

Ronald Rosser ( R ) with President Truman and fellow soldier when both being awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House, the highest award to a soldier.

Rosser standing in front of a bunker in Kumhwa Valley in 1951.

Rosser standing in front of a bunker in Kumhwa Valley in 1951.

A picture of the Medal of Honor Rosser received.

A picture of the Medal of Honor Rosser received.

Ronald Rosser in the Kumhwa Valley. Taken in 1951.

Ronald Rosser in the Kumhwa Valley. Taken in 1951.

Ronald Rosser wearing the Medal of Honor. Taken in 1952.

Ronald Rosser wearing the Medal of Honor. Taken in 1952.