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Gen. Bernard W. Rogers Dies – 28th Army Chief of Staff
Gen. Bernard W. Rogers, USA, Ret., the 28th Army chief of staff and a member of the Association of the United States Army’s Council of Trustees since June 1990, died Oct. 27 at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va.
He was 87.
Born in Fairview, Kan., after a tour as an enlisted man in the Kansas Army National Guard, Rogers entered and later graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1943 as a second lieutenant of infantry.
He retired from the Army in 1987 as the supreme allied commander Europe and commander-in-chief, U.S European Command.
Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, AUSA president said, “Today our nation lost a great American soldier, warrior, scholar, statesman and patriot who served his country in uniform with distinction, dedication and honor for 44 years.”
Adding, “As Army chief of staff in the 1970s, General Rogers, with uncanny vision and boundless energy, realized the need for a seamless active, Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve force. He inspired and supervised the Army’s move to a 24-division, all-component force to fight our nation’s wars into the future. And, he established priorities and programs for near-term readiness, midterm force modernization and long-term sustainability.
“With uncanny foresight, he was the prime mover in establishing the National Training Center that to this day prepares our soldiers for current and future battles on battlefields not yet known or imagined.”
Sullivan also said, “With his love for soldiers and his abiding concern for their families – and realizing their well-being is of paramount importance – he pioneered effective and realistic measures to ensure an enhanced quality of life for those who sacrifice so much to serve their country.”
Recognizing his unmatched contributions to the nation, not only while serving on active duty, but also after his retirement, in 1999, AUSA presented its highest award – the George Catlett Marshall Medal – to Rogers saying,” For nearly six decades, General Rogers has been a formidable force of inspiration for America’s Army, our country’s national defense and the peace-loving people of the world … during very extraordinary times and under very trying circumstances,”
Graduating from West Point as the first captain of the Corps of Cadets, Rogers returned to his Alma Mater and, due to his academic achievements as a cadet, the young captain became an instructor in the Department of Economics, Government and History.
Following an assignment as the aide to the High Commissioner to Austria, he was the aide to the commanding general, 6th U.S. Army.
With his probing mind, extraordinary talents and intellectual capacity, he won a national competition to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
Here he received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, politics and economics in 1950. He returned in 1954 and was awarded a master’s degree in the same fields.
After graduation, he returned to the United States, attended the Infantry Advanced Course and was deployed to Korea where he commanded the 3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry – first as a temporary major then as a temporary lieutenant colonel. The division was engaged in sustained combat.
This led to becoming an aide to the commander-in-chief and staff intelligence officer for the United Nations and Far East Commands.
After the war, Rogers was back in the States, graduated from the Command and General Staff College, commanded the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry, was the executive officer and senior aide to the Army chief of staff and attended the Army War College.
Following his promotion to brigadier general, he was deployed to Vietnam where he was the assistant division commander, 1st Infantry Division.
It was during this assignment that Rogers distinguished himself in a series of combat operations and actions that marked him a warrior and hero.
For his gallantry in action, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device and 36 Air Medals with “V” Device.
After Vietnam, he again returned to West Point to become the commandant of cadets – reforming the cadet disciplinary system and making sure that the cadet leadership model reflected the leadership abilities to effectively lead soldiers.
He then commanded the 5th Infantry Division, a unit with low morale and even lower combat effectiveness.
Soon the division’s morale and unit readiness were not only restored, but also reached new heights due to the successful initiatives implemented by Rogers which later served as an Army-wide model and framework for the All-Volunteer Army during this critical time of transition.
Following an assignment as chief of Army legislative liaison as a major general, and deputy chief of staff for personnel as a lieutenant general both at the Pentagon, Rogers, now a four-star general, took over the U.S. Army Forces Command, where he stressed the importance of modernization and sustainability.
He became Army chief of staff in 1976, and soon after his four-year term, allied NATO nations selected him to become the supreme allied commander Europe.
For eight years, because his leadership and statesmanship – coupled with his vast knowledge and experiences as a soldier and warrior –NATO became stronger than any time in its history, and, as an alliance of strength, victory of the West was assured in the Cold War.
At the conclusion of his service with NATO, his accomplishments were recognized with the presentation of the Defense, Army, Navy and Air Force Distinguished Service Medals, in addition to numerous foreign awards and decorations.
After retiring, Rogers continued his service to the nation and the Army as a member of The Atlantic Council of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Association of the United States Army.
In 1995, the West Point Association of Graduates presented him with the Distinguished Graduate Award.
The citation read, in part, “His uncommon devotion to his country and its Army epitomizes the fines qualities of the American soldier and clearly reflects the principles and ideals embodied in the motto of West Point – Duty, Honor, Country.”
He is survived by his wife, Ann E. Rogers, McLean, Va., a son, Michael W., and two daughters, Diane Opperman and Susan Kroetch.
At press time, funeral arraignments were not finalized.