The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, SP4 Horace Pope Rogers Jr., who died in the service of his country on June 24th, 1966 in Pleiku Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Multi-Frag. At the time of his death Horace was 20 years of age. He was from Wilson, North Carolina. Horace is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 08E, Line 88.
The decorations earned by SP4 Horace Pope Rogers Jr. include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
North Carolina, USA
Hero's Life Centered On Religion, Baseball
A young Wilson man who had visions of becoming a missionary, and who had played baseball for the San Francisco Giants organization in Salem, Va., has been killed in Vietnam.
Specialist 4 Horace P Rogers Jr., 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Horace P. Rogers Sr. of Rt 2 Wilson, died of mortar wounds Friday in Vietnam.
News of his death came Sunday morning, relayed by two ft. Bragg officers who arrived at the Rogers' home about 8 a.m. They told the family of the young soldiers death, which came just two months before his term in the U.S. Army would have ended. Young Rogers had been in Vietnam since Christmas and his family had not seen him in over two years. "He was looking forward to coming home in September so he could be with old friends and his family," his mother said. "He wrote in his letters of how much he wanted to be back home."
Young Rogers joined the Army in September of 1963, just three months after he graduated from Charles B. Aycock High School. But he was seen more at Fike High School, for that is where he attended school most of his high school days.
"He loved sports and God," his father said. The two made up his life and he lived for both.
"H.P. played baseball with the Giant's farm system in Salem for three months, but decided he wanted to go ahead and join the Army. He did not tell us of his decision until three days before he was to be sent to Fort Jackson in South Carolina. It upset us, but he knew in his heart what he was doing and we did not object.
"He told his father that he was going to try out for the All-Army baseball team after he got into the service, and that when his time was up, he would only be 21, and would be experienced enough so he could return to the major leagues," his mother said.
And young H.P. made that All-Army baseball team and he played two years in Hawaii. Mrs. Rogers said her son was supposed to come home twice during those years, but for unknown reasons, both leaves were cancelled. "He was even supposed to come home for Christmas, but that leave was cancelled, and instead he was sent to Vietnam," she added,
In a letter dated May 14, 1966, young Rogers wrote of taking a short leave to Japan to visit some missionary friends there he had met in Hawaii. "He always referred to God in his letters and he believed that God came first and everything else second," his father added.
In that letter, H.P. referred to the scripture, John 14;27, that reads, "What serenity and peace inside that seems to overflow like a bubbling fountain." And he wrote, "Mother, I am so thankful for your faith in Christ and love for your children and all the times you have sacrificed for our benefit." He went on to say, "I am sure God will reward you for being so faithful to us but mainly to Daddy", whom he referred to often in the letter.
In his last letter dated June 17 and written in the fields of Vietnam, he said, "Lord willing, I am going back to Tokyo to see my missionary friends." He further said, "Mother, I will be so glad to get home," but he added, "Let God's will be done, no matter what that may be." And he closed, "May God bless you richly day by day."
"He taught Sunday School in the Army and he worked with the chaplains whenever he had the time. He spent his life with God," his father said.
Young Rogers attended Wilson City Schools for the first to the 10th grade, and was active in sports. He played baseball, football, and track in the ninth and tenth grades at Fike. He later transferred to Lee Woodard High in the 11th grade and graduated from Charles B. Aycock. "H. P. was very active here at Fike," Willard Woodard, principal, said today. "He was just an all-around boy and very cooperative. His best sport here was baseball. He was very ambitious. There is not much I can add about him, except that he was just a good boy while he was here."
His parents soon realized from his letters in the past year or so that he was turning more and more to God. "It seemed like he was wanting to become a missionary after he got out of the Army," his mother said. "We are not sure, but that is the idea we got from his letters." Mr. and Mrs. Rogers said their son was brought up in the Five Points Missionary Church and that he attended regularly. "He was very proud for that. We know that God wanted him more than we did."
It is possible that in that last letter, when H.P. wrote, "Let God's will be done," that he knew that he might not return home alive. He told his father once that, "this body is not mine, it belongs to God." That body will now return home never again to see the suffering and strife in Vietnam.