Rodger W. Young
148th Infantry Regiment Embarkation at Guadalcanal, July 4, 1943. Pictured left to right: John D'Amico, Stephen J. Protsik, Don Steman, and H. Corbin. The 148th was part of the 37th Infantry Division and stationed in the Pacific Theater during
Rodger Wilton Young was born on April 28, 1918 in Tiffin, Ohio. Young first lived in Green Springs, Ohio, and then moved to the outskirts of Clyde, Ohio, shortly before World War II's outbreak.
In 1938, Young enlisted in the Ohio National Guard in Company B of the 148th Infantry Regiment. Only sixty-two inches tall, Young was small for his age, but he proved adept at shooting due to being an active hunter during his youth. In October 1940, as the world became enveloped by World War II, the United States government activated Young's unit. Due to his excellent marksmanship skills, Young became a rifle instructor and eventually attained the rank of sergeant. He served as leader of an infantry squad. Eventually Young's unit was sent to the Fiji Islands and then to the Solomon Islands to battle the Japanese. Believing that he could not safely lead his unit due to hearing difficulties, Young requested and received a demotion to private. While serving in the Solomon Islands, Young earned the Congressional Medal Honor. On July 31, 1943, Young's unit attacked a Japanese airstrip. A Japanese machine gunner pinned the Americans down. Undaunted, Young single-handedly attacked the machine gunner. Wounded twice, Young still crept forward. He crawled close enough to throw hand grenades. The Japanese soldier succeeded in wounding Young a third time, killing the American. The other Americans managed to escape thanks to Young's actions.
In January 1944, Young posthumously received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions. Ohio Governor Frank J. Lausche declared March 25, 1945, to be "Rodger W. Young Day" in the state, and the city of Fremont, Ohio, renamed its Water Works Park to Rodger W. Young Memorial Park. Songwriter Frank Loesser also commemorated Young's actions in "The Ballad of Rodger Young."
"The Ballad of Rodger Young"
Oh, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry. Oh, they've got no use for praises loudly sung. But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young. (Shines the name, Rodger Young! Fought and died for the men he marched among. To the everlasting glory of the Infantry. Lives the story of Private Rodger Young.) Caught in ambush lay a company of riflemen Just grenades against machine guns in the gloom. Caught in ambush till this one of twenty riflemen Volunteered, volunteered to meet his doom. Volunteered, Rodger Young! Fought and died for the men he marched among. In the everlasting annals of the Infantry Glows the last deed of Private Rodger Young. (It was he who drew the fire of the enemy That a company of men might live to fight. And before the deadly fire of the enemy Stood the man, stood the man we hail tonight.) On the island of New Georgia in the Solomons Stands a simple wooden cross alone to tell. That beneath the silent coral of the Solomons Sleeps a man, sleeps a man remembered well. Sleeps a man, Rodger Young! Fought and died for the men he marched among. In the everlasting spirit of the Infantry Breathes the spirit of Private Rodger Young. No, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry. No, they've got no use for praises loudly sung. But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young. Shines the name, Rodger Young! Fought and died for the men he marched among. To the everlasting glory of the Infantry Lives the story of Private Rodger Young.