Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

 

Rodger W. Young

 

LH-175


Introduction

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content

Inventory

Introduction

In addition to the collection, material about Rodger Young may be found in the Hayes Presidential Center’s Biographical File and the Thaddeus B. Hurd Local History Collection (LH - 243). Selected items may be viewed online at: sandusky-county-scrapbook.net.

Biographical Sketch

Rodger Wilton Young was born April 28, 1918 in Tiffin, Ohio to Mr. & Mrs. Nicholas Young. He had three brothers and one sister. The Young family lived in Green Springs, Ohio, moving to nearby Clyde shortly before the outbreak of World War II. While growing up Rodger spent much time fishing and hunting and acquired the nickname "Fuzz" one day hunting rabbits.

Rodger joined Company B 148th Infantry (the Fremont Company) of the Ohio National Guard in January 1938. At that time Rodger, who was always small, was 5'2" tall and weighed 125 pounds - one of the smallest men in the outfit. In October 1940 the Guard unit was activated as part of the 37th Infantry Division under Major General Robert Beightler. The company trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi and Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, Pennsylvania. Rodger served as an instructor on the rifle range, won marksmanship medals, and was a sergeant and squad leader when the company left the United States for the South Pacific.

The unit went first to the Fiji Islands and then to New Guinea in the Solomon Islands. Rodger suffered from poor hearing, the result of an incident during a high school basketball game and aggravated by the sound of gunfire at the firing range. Concerned that he would not hear an important order or some significant sound in the jungle during a mission, he asked to be demoted back to the rank of private and have someone else lead the squad.

On July 31, 1943, Young’s squad was pinned down by a hidden Japanese machine gun nest protecting the Munda airstrip on New Guinea. Rodger, wounded by the initial burst of fire, spotted the location of the gun. Firing his rifle and attracting the fire of the enemy, he crept forward and was wounded a second time. When he was close enough, he began throwing hand grenades, was hit again and killed. His heroic efforts allowed his squad to withdraw with no additional losses while inflicting several casualties on the Japanese. For this action, Rodger Young was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in January 1944. About a year later this story came to the attention of Pfc. Frank Loesser who, already established as a writer of popular songs, wrote "The Ballad of Rodger Young".

The Governor of Ohio, Frank J. Lausche, proclaimed March 25, 1945 as "Rodger W. Young Day" in Ohio. On that day a celebration was held in Fremont, Ohio honoring Rodger and his gallantry. The day’s activities culminated in the dedication of Fremont’s Water Works Park as Rodger W. Young Memorial Park.

In 1949 Young’s remains were returned to the United States and he is now buried in McPherson Cemetery, Clyde, Ohio.

Scope and Content

The majority of this collection pertains to the posthumous recognition of Rodger W. Young and his action that earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. The activities in Fremont, March 25, 1945, and the funeral in Clyde, July 22, 1949, are both covered by photographs as well as newspaper and other accounts. The collection contains rosters, biographical information, photographs of Rodger’s parents, Company B 148th Infantry, and the combat area in the South Pacific. Also found here are several magazine accounts of Young’s actions including Life, The Saturday Evening Post, and Saga as well as the Congressional Record. The collection also holds audio recordings and sheet music of "The Ballad of Rodger Young" in addition to correspondence with Frank Loesser. A scrapbook of newspaper clippings regarding the deeds, funeral and tributes to Rodger Young is also in the collection.

Inventory

Box 1

Folder:
1 Biographical
2 Company B 148th Infantry
3 Medals, Citations, Resolutions
4 "Ballad of Rodger Young" - Sheet Music, Audio Cassettes, Photos, etc.
5 Funeral - Clyde, Ohio, July 22, 1949
6 Rodger W. Young Day/Park Dedication March 25, 1945
7 Miscellaneous
8 Photos - Company B, South Pacific
9 Photos - Parents of Rodger W. Young
10 Photos - Rodger W. Young Memorial Park
11 Photos - Funeral, Clyde, Ohio, July 22, 1949
12 Photos - Miscellaneous
13 Congressional Record, March 9, 1945
14 Saga, March 1956
15 Scrapbook of Posthumous Newspaper Clippings

 

Oversize

Life, March 5, 1945
The Saturday Evening Post
, September 29, 1945
Photograph - Nicholas Young & Watt Marchman
Photograph - Company Meets Rodger Young’s Folks"
Proclamation from President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Certificate of Participation - American Commission for Living War Memorials
Organization Chart - Rodger W. Young Day March 25, 1945

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