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Patriots in History

Rodger Young

Rodger Young was a hero during World War II.  On July 31, 1943, PFC Young sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers from fierce machine gun fire by the Japanese on the Solomon Islands.  His bravery and unwavering duty and honor to his country earned him a Medal of Honor.  

The Medal of Honor citation states the following about this brave hero:

 "On 31 July 1943, the infantry company of which Pvt. Young was a member, was ordered to make a limited withdrawal from the battle line in order to adjust the battalion's position for the night. At this time, Pvt. Young's platoon was engaged with the enemy in a dense jungle where observation was very limited. The platoon suddenly was pinned down by intense fire from a Japanese machinegun concealed on higher ground only 75 yards away. The initial burst wounded Pvt. Young. As the platoon started to obey the order to withdraw, Pvt. Young called out that he could see the enemy emplacement, whereupon he started creeping toward it. Another burst from the machinegun wounded him the second time. Despite the wounds, he continued his heroic advance, attracting enemy fire and answering with rifle fire. When he was close enough to his objective, he began throwing hand grenades, and while doing so was hit again and killed. Pvt. Young's bold action in closing with this Japanese pillbox and thus diverting its fire, permitted his platoon to disengage itself, without loss, and was responsible for several enemy casualties."

Rodger Young was born in Tiffin, Ohio on April 28, 1918.  While growing up he became an excellent hunter and improved his marksmanship skills to a level that caused the Army to assign him as a rifle instructor. While serving in the Ohio Army National Guard, Rodger Young was promoted to Sergeant.  In 1940, Rodger Young was activated with his unit, the 148th Infantry, and sent to the Fiji Islands.  His unit was later shipped to Solomon Islands to support the efforts in that region.  During this time, Rodger Young was having difficulty in hearing.  Due to this impairment, SGT Young requested that he be demoted to a private as he did not feel safe in leading men into battle without being able to hear. 

With the battle raging, the now PFC Young followed the orders of his leaders and began fighting.   His bravery on that day gave encouragement and strength to his unit.  His heroism was immortalized by a the songwriter Frank Loesser who wrote a ballad in honor of Rodger Young. The following are the words from that ballad"

"The Ballad of Rodger Young"

Oh, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry.
Oh, they've got no use for praises loudly sung.
But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry
Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.

(Shines the name, Rodger Young!
Fought and died for the men he marched among.
To the everlasting glory of the Infantry.
Lives the story of Private Rodger Young.)

Caught in ambush lay a company of riflemen
Just grenades against machine guns in the gloom.
Caught in ambush till this one of twenty riflemen
Volunteered, volunteered to meet his doom.

Volunteered, Rodger Young!
Fought and died for the men he marched among.
In the everlasting annals of the Infantry
Glows the last deed of Private Rodger Young.

(It was he who drew the fire of the enemy
That a company of men might live to fight.
And before the deadly fire of the enemy
Stood the man, stood the man we hail tonight.)

On the island of New Georgia in the Solomons
Stands a simple wooden cross alone to tell.
That beneath the silent coral of the Solomons
Sleeps a man, sleeps a man remembered well.

Sleeps a man, Rodger Young!
Fought and died for the men he marched among.
In the everlasting spirit of the Infantry
Breathes the spirit of Private Rodger Young.

No, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry.
No, they've got no use for praises loudly sung.
But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry
Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.

Shines the name, Rodger Young!
Fought and died for the men he marched among.
To the everlasting glory of the Infantry
Lives the story of Private Rodger Young.
 

PFC Young's heroic efforts were not forgotten by those back in his state of Ohio.  The Ohio Governor Frank J. Lausche declared March 25, 1945, to be "Rodger W. Young Day" in the state, and the city of Fremont, Ohio, renamed its Water Works Park to Rodger W. Young Memorial Park.  Also, a rifle range on Camp Perry, Ohio was named in his honor.  PFC Young was truly a hero.  His unselfish act on July 31, 1943 displays that type of heroism that America was founded upon and reflects great credit upon all those who served, now serving, and all who will serve.  He is truly an American patriot.

Sacrifice for free is not duty but an honor.

 

 

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