William Bradford Rosson
Engagements: • World War II (1941 - 1945)• Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)
William Bradford Rosson
William Bradford Rosson was born in Des Moines, IA, on 25 August 1918. He obtained his Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from the University of Oregon in 1940 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry in the U.S. Army through ROTC.
Rosson's military assignments (in chronological order) included:
Battalion Commander with the 3rd Infantry Division, 10 campaigns in Europe
Rosson fought in ten campaigns with the 3rd Infantry Division during World War II in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, and Germany. At the age of 25, he was a battalion commander when he was wounded in Sicily. He was awarded the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his actions on the Anzio beachhead in Italy.
He participated in four amphibious assaults during World War II, helping plan the invasion of Southern France and fighting with VI Corps all the way to Germany. He was a regimental commander during the early occupation of Germany.
He later served on the Army General Staff in the Pentagon; in General Eisenhower's NATO headquarters in Paris, France; and on the staff of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, again in the Pentagon. Troop duty included commanding two Infantry regiments in Germany and the European Airborne Brigade, also in Germany.
Rosson displayed physical courage in his career. In 1954, while assigned to a U.S. Military Advisory Group in Indochina, he flew over the battle of Dien Bien Phu, the bloody altercation that ended French involvement in Vietnam. The first two Americans killed in Vietnam combat, both civilians, died in similar flyovers when their aircraft was downed by withering antiaircraft fire from the Việt Minh.
Rosson served four tours in Vietnam covering six years; longer than any other senior commander in that war. He once took over I Corps for a Marine commander on leave; a rare case in which an Army officer was in command of a predominantly Marine formation.
General Rosson was a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College, the Army War College, and the National War College.
He retired from the Army in 1975.
Medals, Awards and Badges
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Cross Citation (Synopsis)
Major (Infantry) William Bradford Rosson (ASN: 0-23556), United States Army, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 31 January 1944, in the vicinity of Anzio, Italy. Major Rosson's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 3d Infantry Division, and the United States Army.
General Orders: Headquarters, Fifth U.S. Army, General Orders No. 129 (July 30, 1944)
He also received the Doughboy Award, the Infantry's highest award.
Side Story Regarding Medals
From this story, it is apparent that Rosson did not take his medals and awards too seriously. After the war, while working in Europe under Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, Rosson noted that Montgomery was wearing all of his 38 ribbons. According to a story that made the rounds at NATO headquarters, Montgomery then asked each officer in the room, in turn, how many ribbons he had earned. Rosson, who had no idea how many awards he had, answered, "Thirty-nine." Montgomery left the room in a huff, and the American's popularity with British staff officers soared.
Following his retirement from the Army in 1975, General Rosson obtained a Master of Letters degree in International Relations from Oxford University in England. Among his pursuits were lecturing on national security and international relations, serving as a panelist, conducting professional research, and writing for military agencies and journals.
In 1984, he moved from Florida to Salem, near Roanoke, VA, after he married Bertha Mitchell Rosson, and became involved as a board member of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.
Death and Burial
General William Bradford Rosson died on 12 December 2004 of a heart attack at his home in Salem, VA. He was 86. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 30, Lot 877. He was survived by his wife, Bertha.
|Honoree ID: 316||Created by: MHOH|