Rosen, Melvin Herbert, COL

Deceased
 
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Last Rank
Colonel
Last Service Branch
Field Artillery
Last Primary MOS
1193-Field Artillery Unit Commander
Last MOS Group
Field Artillery (Officer)
Primary Unit
1966-1970, TRADOC Combat Developments
Service Years
1940 - 1970

Field Artillery

Colonel



Nine Overseas Service Bars


 Last Photo   Personal Details 


Home State
Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Year of Birth
1918
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by the Site Administrator to remember Rosen, Melvin Herbert, COL USA(Ret).
 
Contact Info
Home Town
Gloucester
Last Address
Falls Church, VA

Date of Passing
Aug 01, 2007
 
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Plot: Sec: 32, Site: 517

 Official Badges 

Army Staff Identification US Army Retired (Pre-2007) Meritorious Unit Commendation 1944-1961 Defense Intel Agency

US Army Retired


 Unofficial Badges 

Artillery Shoulder Cord Honorable Order of Saint Barbara


 Military Association Memberships
Battling Bastards of Bataan
  1950, Battling Bastards of Bataan


 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
MELVIN HERBERT ROSEN was born in Gloucester, MA June 8, 1918 to Joseph and Bertha (Pepper) Rosen. His parents were both immigrants from Czarist Russia who met and married in the United States. The many relatives they left behind in what became Poland after WWI, including Mel’s maternal grandfather, perished in the Holocaust.

Mel attended Gloucester High School, and graduated as Class Valedictorian in 1935. Gloucester High had a 4-year Junior ROTC program, in which he participated. He was much impressed with his ROTC training and served as a Cadet Captain and Company Commander. Junior ROTC started a lifelong love affair with the United States Army. Following high school, he was awarded a full-tuition academic scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. where he enrolled in Aeronautical Engineering in 1935. While at M.I.T., Rosen took a competitive examination for a Congressional appointment to West Point and received a second alternate. His principal and first alternate both having failed to meet entrance requirements, he entered West Point with the class of 1940.

In 1936 all incoming cadets had to choose between mandatory Catholic or Protestant church services. During Plebe year, Rosen joined with a small group of other Jewish cadets who gave up their only free time, on Saturday afternoons, to attend voluntary Jewish services in the office of the Protestant Chaplain. This was the genesis of the first Jewish Cadet Chapel Squad in history of the United States Military Academy (USMA).

Upon graduation from the USMA in 1940, Colonel Rosen requested and received duty in the Field Artillery at Fort Stotsenburg, Philippine Islands. He was certain that the Japanese would attack the U.S. and that the Philippines was the only next logical target, and, therefore, they would have the best of everything in place there. After attending the Basic Officers’ Course at Fort Sill, OK, Rosen arrived at Fort Stotsenburg in January 1941 and was assigned to the Philippine Scouts (PS). He found magnificent Scout soldiers, and WWI and pre-WWI equipment.

As a 2d Lieutenant, he organized and commanded “E” Battery, 2d Battalion, 88th FA of the Philippine Scouts (PS). Actually, he was the only officer with the battery at that time. On December 8, 1941 (December 7 in the United States), Colonel Rosen was a 1st Lieutenant and the Assistant S-3 (Operations Officer) of the Provisional Field Artillery Brigade. The unit was under attack by the Japanese within hours after Pearl Harbor.

Colonel Rosen immediately found himself in combat. Eleven days later he was promoted to captain on the first battlefield promotion list of WWII, after having been a 1st Lt. for 69 days. He later requested and received command of the battery that he had organized months earlier. He fought with this “E” Battery, 2d Battalion, 88th FA (PS) until Bataan was surrendered 9 April 1942. He then became a POW of the Japanese.


When Bataan was surrendered on April 9, 1942, Colonel Rosen made the notorious Death March. Later, he was sent to the Davao Penal Colony (DAPECOL) where he was kept for two and a half years — planting rice, weeding rice, harvesting rice, and lumberjacking. As the American forces pushed their offensive north, the Japanese moved most of the prisoners in DAPECOL back to Luzon.

On December 13, 1944, the Japanese again moved a group of about 1619 American POWs, including Rosen, north to Japan. This turned into the infamous “hell ships” trip. The Oryyoku Maru, unmarked of course, was bombed and destroyed by U. S. Navy dive bombers. The survivors (Rosen among them) jumped off the burning and sinking ship and swam ashore. They were rounded up by the Japanese and later put aboard the Enoura Maru. This ship, also unmarked, was bombed and destroyed by Navy dive bombers in Takao Harbor, Formosa. The survivors were put on a third ship, the Brazil Maru. This ship arrived in Japan on January 30, 1945 with about 430 of the original 1619 left alive. More died in the following months.

He survived the “Bataan Death March”, the three “Hell Ships”, and three and a half years of Japanese prison camps. When he arrived in Japan in January 1945, he weighed 40 kilos or 88 pounds. He was liberated from Inchon, Korea in September 1945.

To read more about this part of Colonel Rosen’s history, please go to:

http://www.us-japandialogueonpows.org/

Click on “POW Stories”, then click on “Melvin H. Rosen”

Colonel Rosen was evacuated to the United States via Manila, and then hospitalized at Camp Devons, MA, It was while on leave from the hospital that he met Olive Oppenheim whom he married a year and a half later in 1947. He requested an early return to active duty and attended Officers’ Advanced Course No. 1 at Fort Sill, OK.

After Colonel Rosen completed the Advanced Artillery Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the Rosens’ first station together was with the 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington where Colonel Rosen was the Assistant Division G-4, Battalion Executive Officer of the 38th FA Battalion, and 2nd Division Artillery S-3 (Operations and Plans Officer). He then spent three and a half years in the Pentagon as Chief Plans and Policy Officer in the Procurement Division of the G-4 on the Army General Staff. After completing the Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he was sent to Heidelberg, Germany where he served in the Procurement Division of Headquarters, U.S. Army Europe. He was joined there later by his wife, Olive, and new daughter Barbara.

In 1956 Colonel Rosen took command of the 775th FA Battalion and Dolan Barracks in Schwabisch Hall, Germany. From there he went back to Fort Leavenworth for four years on the Faculty of the Command and General Staff College. In 1961 his son, David, was born, and Colonel Rosen received his promotion to Colonel as well as orders to attend the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks. During this period, he also completed a Masters Degree in International affairs from George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. After graduation, he spent three years with the Defense Intelligence Agency at Arlington Hall Station.

Colonel Rosen then had an unaccompanied tour in Korea. On the 20th anniversary of the day he was liberated from a Japanese POW camp in Inchon, Colonel Rosen took command of the area in which his former camp was located.

In Korea he commanded the 20th General Support Group and ASCOM District Command totaling more than 14, 500 personnel. He returned to the U.S. in the fall of 1966 to be stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia with the Combat Developments Command. He helped to design, establish, and later commanded the Army’s Institute of Land Combat.

Colonel Rosen retired from Active Duty in December 1970. He worked as an analyst and project manager for Research Analysis Corporation/General Research Corporation, Litton Industries, and Systems Research and Applications Corporation (SRA). He authored more than twenty studies, technical papers, articles, and booklets that were published — many dealing with United States and foreign Reserve Components. He retired from the industry in 1985.

Colonel Rosen was awarded the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal, and numerous service medals including three from the Republic of the Philippines. He was also awarded three U.S. Presidential Unit Citations and a Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. In December 1990, the King of Norway, Olav V, awarded the Saint Olav Medal to Colonel Rosen and also awarded the same decoration to Mrs. Rosen. The medal is the highest given by the King to non-Norwegians. Awarding these medals to the Rosens was one of the last official acts of King Olav V before his death in January 1991.

Colonel Rosen is survived by his wife of 60 years, Olive (Oppenheim) Rosen; daughter Barbara (Gregg Powell) Rosen, and son David (Jeannette Wrysinski) Rosen; grandchildren Jacob Rosen, Aren and Adam Scardaci, and Heather Powell; great-grandchildren Morgan and Savannah Goodrich; and niece Arlene (Robert) Malech.
   
Other Comments:
Melvin Herbert Rosen, who died August 1, 2007, at 89 of heart disease at his home in Falls Church, Virginia, trudged 65 miles in four days without food or water in tropical heat during World War II on a road that came to be littered with the bodies of hundreds of American and thousands of Filipino prisoners of war. A young Army Captain, he survived what came to be called the Bataan Death March.

He endured crowded, unsanitary and treacherous conditions aboard three Japanese freighters known as "hell ships." The first two unmarked ships became targets for U.S. Navy dive bombers, which sank the ships and forced the POWs on board to swim for their lives. Some POWs died in the attacks. Japanese soldiers rounded up the others.
  
By the time Colonel Rosen was on the last of the ships, the Brazil Maru, the daily death toll had begun to escalate from 20 to 40, Colonel Rosen recounted in an oral history for the U.S.-Japan Dialogue on POWs.

"Now we were sailing in the East China Sea with snow coming in our open hatch. Men froze to death, died of starvation, died of thirst, and died of myriad of diseases," he said. "I had managed to keep my West Point class ring hidden, but now traded it to a Japanese guard for half a canteen of oily water."

He was liberated September 10, 1945, at a camp in Inchon, Korea, by the Army's 7th Division.

Colonel Rosen, who never forgot his treatment as a POW, was the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit in 2001 seeking $1 trillion in reparations from Japan for Americans killed or wounded in the war. He testified in Japan for the suit, though nothing came of it, said his wife, Olive O. Rosen of Falls Church.

Colonel Rosen, the son of immigrants from Czarist Russia, was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He graduated from high school as class valedictorian and relished his time as a cadet captain and company commander in the Junior ROTC.

"He absolutely fell in love with the military and everything that had to do with it," his wife said.

He finished high school at 16 and was awarded a full-tuition academic scholarship to MIT in 1935. After his first year, he took a competitive examination for a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was placed on a waiting list. When two contenders ahead of him failed to meet entrance requirements, he enrolled at West Point in 1936.

At the time, incoming cadets had to choose between mandatory Catholic or Protestant church services. Rosen, who was Jewish, attended Protestant services on Sundays and joined a small group of other Jewish cadets who gave up their free time on Saturday afternoons to attend voluntary Jewish services in the office of the Protestant chaplain. This was the genesis of the first Jewish cadet chapel squad at West Point.

After graduating from West Point in 1940, the young Army officer requested and received duty in the Field Artillery at Fort Stotsenburg in the Philippines. In January 1941, he was assigned to the Philippine Scouts, where, as a second lieutenant, he organized and commanded E Battery, 2nd Battalion, 88th Field Artillery.

By year's end, he was in combat. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he fought for nearly four months during the Battle of Bataan. When the peninsula was surrendered April 9, 1942, Colonel Rosen and other American and Filipino soldiers were forced to make the infamous death march.

Afterward, he was sent to the Davao Penal Colony, where he was kept for 2 1/2 years -- planting, weeding and harvesting rice and working as a lumberjack.

Years later, Colonel Rosen reflected on the hardships he endured during World War II.

"It was war, after all, and what I was trained for, but we had every right to assume we would be treated humanely and in accordance with international law. War or not, we could never imagine the racism, the cruelty, the torture, the savagery we would and did experience."

After the war, he recuperated in Massachusetts and returned to active duty. He held several assignments, including at the Pentagon as chief plans and policy officer in the Procurement Division of the Army General Staff. He served in Germany and taught at Fort Leavenworth for four years on the faculty of the Command and General Staff College. He was promoted to Colonel in 1961.

During that period, he also completed a master's degree in international affairs at George Washington University. He then spent three years with the Defense Intelligence Agency at Arlington Hall Station.

On the 20th anniversary of the day he was liberated from a Japanese POW camp, Colonel Rosen took command of the area where his former POW camp was located.

He returned to the United States in 1966 and was stationed at Fort Belvoir with the Combat Developments Command. He helped to design and establish and later commanded the Army's Institute of Land Combat.

He retired from the Army in 1970 and worked as an analyst and project manager for Research Analysis Corp./General Research Corp., Litton Industries, and Systems Research and Applications Corp. He wrote studies, technical papers and booklets, many dealing with U.S. and foreign reserve components. He retired in 1985.

Colonel Rosen was awarded the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal and numerous other service medals. In 1990, the king of Norway, Olav V, awarded the Saint Olav Medal to Colonel Rosen and his wife.

He also was honored in May 2002 during a Memorial Day concert on the Mall, which marked the 60th anniversary of the march.

Colonel Rosen never talked much about his wartime experiences until about 1995, his wife said. Then, he lectured at area universities and to veterans groups. From 2002 to 2004, he spoke to sixth-graders at Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly on World War II history day. "He got such a kick out of the kids and their vital interest in World War II," his wife said. 

 


celebrating his 88th birthday with his wife, Olive (2006)

   
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 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1936, US Military Academy (West Point, NY), A
 Unit Assignments
Basic Airborne Course (BAC) Airborne School26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts), USAFFE Headquarters POW/MIAU.S. Army
38th Field Artillery Battalion2nd Infantry Division2nd Infantry Division ArtilleryDepartment of the Army (DA)
Command and General Staff College (CGSC) Resident CourseUS Army Europe (USAREUR)Army War College (Staff)Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
20th Area Support Group8th ArmyUS Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)
  1940-1941, Basic Airborne Course (BAC) Airborne School
  1941-1942, 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts), USAFFE Headquarters
  1941-1942, 88th Field Artillery Battalion
  1942-1945, POW/MIA
  1947-1947, Field Artillery Officers' Advance Course
  1948-1949, 38th Field Artillery Battalion
  1948-1950, 2nd Infantry Division
  1950-1950, 2nd Infantry Division Artillery
  1950-1954, DA G4
  1954-1955, Command and General Staff College (CGSC) Resident Course
  1955-1956, US Army Europe (USAREUR)
  1956-1958, 775th Field Artillery Battalion
  1958-1961, Command and General Staff College (CGSC) Resident Course
  1961-1962, Army War College (Staff)
  1962-1965, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
  1965-1966, 20th Area Support Group
  1965-1966, Korean Support Command, 8th Army
  1966-1970, TRADOC Combat Developments
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1942 WWII - Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Philippine Islands Campaign (1941-42)
  1942-1942 Philippine Islands Campaign (1941-42)/Bataan Death March
  1945-1945 WWII - Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Surrender of Japan
 Colleges Attended 
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyUnited States Military AcademyGeorge Washington UniversityArmy War College
  1935-1936, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  1936-1940, United States Military Academy
  1960-1961, George Washington University
  1961-1962, Army War College
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