Rogers Powell bleeds red, white and blue

Published 10:55 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

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.

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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.

We Remember

We remember

Our hearts are overflowing with pride

And sorrow.

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

For freedom!

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.

For freedom!

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

Henry Hall

William H. Herndan

Ceph K. Hill

Rupert W. King

Haley McCaskill

World War II

Alton Adcock

Elmer E. Allen

Fred Barr

Jimmy Balako

James Lorenzo Bryan

Max K. Carlisle

Walter Coleman

Joseph Y. Curtis

William A. Davis

J. Henry Downing

Joseph Pettus Floyd

Levi Frazier

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

Alexander Redmon

Lewis Roberts

John Troy Rozzelle

Travis Scott’

John Robert Snider

Walter G. Spivey

Roy F. Spurlin

Shady A. Walker

Korean War

Madison L. Davis

Marvin Dix

Horrie Flowers, Jr.

Odis B. Flowers

Marvin W. Justice

Herbert King

Vernon H. Locklar

Frank W. McCarty

James S. White

Vietnam War

Thomas John D. Campbell

Bobby Gene Huggins

Joel Keith Watkins

Iraqi Freedom

John E. Brown