Rogers Powell bleeds red, white and blue
Rogers Powell bleeds red, white and blue. Always has and always will.
When he was honored as a World War II veteran in Washington, it was impressed upon him that many veterans would never have that recognition so he was determined that they would be honored in his hometown, Troy.
For a year or more, Powell worked tirelessly to raise funds to erect a monument that would honor the soldiers of all wars -those who never came home.
With the strong support of the Disabled American Veterans Post, American Legion Post 70, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Pike County businesses and individuals throughout the county, Powell’s dream came true in 2005. A monument that he designed was erected on the grounds of the Pike County Courthouse and small replicas of the monument were presented to each of the four municipalities in the county.
Powell found satisfaction in knowing that those who never came home would not be forgotten – not in Pike County.
Powell and Pike County Veterans Affairs Officer Randy Ross placed a memorial wreath and flags at the memorial site Wednesday to remain through Memorial Day in honor of those who made the supreme sacrifice for their country.
“I was one of the lucky ones,” Powell said. “All of us who came home were lucky. This memorial could have been for any one of us.”
Powell served with an Army armored infantry division and saw first-hand the horrors of war. And, they are scenes that he can’t forget.
When he received greetings from Uncle Sam, Powell realized that it was not a party invitation and that he was being called to a place from which he might never return.
“I served in Europe and in Germany during the fighting,” Powell said. “I was in a replacement division at the Battle of the Bulge. It was the last major Nazi offensive against the Allies and it was terrible. Out there on the battlefield, we would laugh a while and cry a while. It was no picnic for anybody.”
Powell said the winter weather was another bitter enemy.
“We’d dig in but, if you got still and went to sleep, you’d freeze to death,” he said. “I was too scared to go to sleep but I saw a lot of soldiers that died that way. Just froze to death. There was death all around you. It was horrible. I’ll never forget it.”
Powell’s division pushed on toward the Rhue. Its capture was vital to the conquering of Germany.
“We were on the first crossing of the Rhine River,” he said. “We went across the Ludendorff Bridge on airplane runner rails that had been put down because the cement had been bombed out. We didn’t know it at the time but the Germans were on one end of the bridge and we were on the other.
“There was the railroad tunnel there and the Germans ran back in it and hid. We went around on both sides of it. We left the Germans to somebody else,” Powell said with a smile.
As his battalion pushed on, Powell said they came face-to-face with a German tank that was secured in a dugout.
“The tank started firing at us, point blank,” Powell said. “That tank rained fire on us all night. Scared. We were all scared. I thought the night would never end.”
Of the 256 men who took fire from the German tank that night, only 76 walked away. Powell was “one of the lucky ones.”
“Me and this other soldier got away from the others,” Powell said. “He was carrying two ammo boxes. He put one of the boxes down and I picked it up. In a little bit, he put the other one down and I picked it up. We got all off line but we came upon a checkpoint –Allies. But we’d forgotten the password. The soldier asked us, ‘Password? What’s the password?’ We didn’t know the password but this other soldier went to cursing. The guard said, ‘Let ’em through. Only an American soldier can cuss like that.”
Powell said he couldn’t understand his fellow soldier’s actions until the soldier pulled up the leg of his pants.
“All of the flesh had been blow off his leg. Many of our soldiers that came home, would never be whole again,” Powell said. “So much death and so many scars that will never go away. Some you see and some you don’t. That’s why we can never forget those who never came home and those who scarified so much for our freedoms.”
Powell said as horrible as war is, he is proud that he served.
“I wouldn’t want somebody else to have to do it for me,” he said. “I’m glad I took my turn.”
For Powell, “Old Glory” is a symbol of all that Americans are. It represents those who shed their blood in the name of freedom and a country that is bound forever by those sacrifices.
“Old Glory still flies and the price is still being paid,” he said.
Our hearts are overflowing with pride
Our own dear heroes
They are our fathers, our husbands
Our sons and our brothers.
Their faces are frozen in our memory.
Their love etched in our hearts.
The wind whispers their names in the trees.
Raindrops mingle with our tears.
Yet sunrise even reminds us
We will meet again.
When their country called
The farm lad left his plow.
The teacher left his books.
Left for a cause larger than themselves
Some flew into the sunset
Never to return.
Some sailed the deep, dark seas
And found a watery grave.
From Africa to Korea
From France to Iwo Jima
From Argon to Sygon
From Italy to Iraq.
Their precious blood was shed.
Spilled on foreign soil.
They gave of their youth, their dreams.
They gave their all.
Now, the torch has been tossed to us.
Freedom won at such a price
Must be preserved.
We must carry on the fight
Against the enemy abroad
And the enemy at our door
Those who would chip away
Our freedoms, one by one,
Until they are gone.
Remember, when we work.
Remember, when we vote.
Remember when we pray.
Remember and give thanks
For their lives, their courage
Their ultimate sacrifice.
For those who won our freedom.
How will we greet them in eternity
If we forget!
Inspired by our Lord
Written by Olene Dykes Barron
For the Soldiers Memorial
For the Disabled American Veterans
June 10, 2005
Pike Countians Who Paid the Ultimate Sacrifice
World War I
Eugene A. Cowart
William H. Herndan
Ceph K. Hill
Rupert W. King
World War II
Elmer E. Allen
James Lorenzo Bryan
Max K. Carlisle
Joseph Y. Curtis
William A. Davis
J. Henry Downing
Joseph Pettus Floyd
John R. Furlow
John R. Giddens
Deword F. Gregory
Willie Joe Griffin
Emery L. Harden
George M.L. Hargrove
Jessie B. Huggins
Merrill L. Jenkins
Howard M. Jinright
Grady L. Jones
Lewis N. Jordan
Elbert O. Martin
John Troy Rozzelle
John Robert Snider
Walter G. Spivey
Roy F. Spurlin
Shady A. Walker
Madison L. Davis
Horrie Flowers, Jr.
Odis B. Flowers
Marvin W. Justice
Vernon H. Locklar
Frank W. McCarty
James S. White
Thomas John D. Campbell
Bobby Gene Huggins
Joel Keith Watkins
John E. Brown