By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press


COLUMBUS, Ohio –Almost 50 years have passed since Ronald Rosser received the Congressional Medal of Honor—the country’s highest distinction for military valor—for his actions during a day of deadly fighting in the Korean War. 

    Over the years, Rosser came to a decision that led to his donation of the medal to the Statehouse in a Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11.  "I realized this medal really doesn’t belong to me anymore," he said.  "I was merely holding it for the next generation." 

    Rosser told about 70 veterans and family members that he couldn’t stand the thought that the medal might end up in a drawer or hanging on someone’s wall.  "I wanted it to be someplace where it could do some good, where it could teach children what this country’s worth," said Rosser. 

    Rosser was a 22-year-old corporal on January 12, 1952, when members of Company L of the 38th Infantry Regiment attacked Chinese troops hunkered down on a small mountain known as Hill 472.  Temperatures were 20 below zero, and the company labored through a foot of crusty snow, he said. 

    Rosser was a forward observer with the company’s lead platoon when it came under heavy fire.  In three charges over several hours, Rosser killed at least 13 Chinese soldiers, according to his Medal of Honor citation. 

    As his platoon withdrew, "though himself wounded, (Rosser) made several trips across open terrain still under enemy fire to help remove other men injured more seriously than himself," the citation said. 

    Rosser, now 70, grew up one of 17 brothers and sisters near Crooksville in southeastern Ohio.  Before Korea he served in the U.S. Army 82nd airborne division.  But he re-enlisted after his brother Richard died in combat in Korea on Feb. 10, 1951.

    Rosser donated the medal the same week that a religious ceremony in Cleveland brought together three South Korean survivors and three U.S. Army veterans of Nogun-ria hamlet where witnesses say American troops killed hundreds of refugees early in the Korean War. 

    Rosser doesn’t dispute the events described in Associated Press reports about Nogun-ri and other killings by U.S. soldiers of South Korean civilians.  But he believes people—including veterans—have forgotten the context of the war.  Fear that North Korean infiltrators were penetrating enemy lines was a constant worry. 

    "Sometimes innocent civilians get caught in a thing like that," he said.