Finding a WWII Hero from Decatur, pt 6


By G. Michael Pratt, Ph. D.

Catch Up Here:

 

Part 6: Robert J. Rogers, Jr., a Decatur Hero

Post war information supplied by the survivors provided the evidence needed for the War Department to change Robert Rogers’ status from MIA to KIA. His parents were officially notified in July 1945 and the Atlanta Constitution published a Death Notice.


Lt. Robert J. Rogers, Army Pilot, Dead
Lieutenant Robert J. Rogers Jr., 26-year old pilot, has been declared dead by the War Department, his parents Mr. And Mrs. Robert J. Rogers Sr., of 204 South McDonough Street, Decatur, have been advised. Lieutenant Rogers had been missing in action over Yugoslavia since April 2, 1944.  A graduate of Decatur Boy’s High School, Lieutenant Rogers enlisted in 1941. He won his wings at Williams Field, Arizona. Besides his parents, survivors include one brother, Flight Officer Lyman L. Rogers, of the Eight Air Force, now home on leave; three sisters, Miss Jane Rogers, a Red Cross staff assistant stationed on Guam; Mrs. C. L. Lee, Decatur; and Mrs. G. R. Essex, Atlanta, and his grandmother, Mrs. Susan Reed Bottenfield, of Decatur.
[36]

Atlanta Constitution, 15 July 1945

The War Department also recognized the heroic actions of Lt. Robert Rogers and his personal sacrifice for his men. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in October 1946. The award was presented to his parents in Atlanta by Major General Edward H Brooks, then Deputy Commander of the Seventh Army, in Atlanta on November 14, 1946.[37] 

ROGERS, ROBERT J. (MIA-KIA)
Synopsis:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Robert J. Rogers (0-735819), Second Lieutenant (Air Corps), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as an Officer of a B-24 Heavy Bomber in the 460th Bombardment Group (H), FIFTEENTH Air Force, while participating in a bombing mission on 2 April 1944, against enemy targets in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. The personal courage and devotion to duty displayed by Second Lieutenant Rogers on this occasion have upheld the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 15th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.
Headquarters: U.S. Army-Mediterranean Theater of Operations, General Orders No. 68 (1946)  Home Town: Decatur, Georgia
[38]

Synopsis of DSC Award to Robert J Rogers, 1946

Following the war, the United States Government launched a global initiative, “The Return of the World War II Dead Program,” to locate aircraft crash sites, comb former battlefields for isolated graves, and disinter temporary military cemeteries around the globe. The U. S. Army created the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) to perform this task. Once remains had been recovered, they were transported to Central Identification Laboratories (CIL), where technicians confirmed or established identifications of more than 280,000 individuals. The identified service members were then buried according to the wishes of their next of kin. The program operated from 1945 to 1951, working until all known leads were exhausted.  Robert Rogers remains were recovered from a military cemetery in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, identified and, following his parent’s wishes, were returned to the United States. He came home in April of 1950 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 34, Lot 4189.[40] 

The story of Robert J. Rogers, Jr. is fascinating, but there remain many, many untold stories from those, like Frank W. Rogers, Jr., and Wade D. Pratt who survived the war and returned home to start families, and businesses. They were the forces behind building up our nation and the world in the post-war period. Seventy-five years after VE and VJ Days, that generation and their untold stories are fading away. The DeKalb History Center collects these stories through our oral history program and biographical/genealogical files. If you have a story to tell, please contact us.


By G. Michael Pratt, Ph. D.

Mike Pratt is a DeKalb History Center board member and volunteer. He is a battlefield archeologist and forensic anthropologist who retired to Atlanta in 2016. Formerly Associate Provost and Dean of Miami University’s Regional Campuses in Ohio, Mike spent 28 years as an anthropology faculty member and administrator at Heidelberg University, Tiffin, Ohio. As an archeologist he conducted research and archaeological surveys at the 1794 Fallen Timbers, 1813 River Raisin, 1815 Mackinac Island and 1863 Buffington Island Battlefields. As a forensic anthropologist he was a consultant to the Lucas County, Ohio Coroner for more than 20 years and was a member of DMORT, a federal mass fatality response team. He is a graduate of Case Western Reserve and Miami Universities.

Mike and his wife, Patty, now live in Tucker.


[36] Death Notice, Atlanta Constitution, 15 July 1945. Wilson Family Tree for Robert Jackson Rogers (Ancestry.com)

[37] Major General Brooks, https://www.geni.com/people/Lt-General-Edward-H-Brooks/6000000023806981771

[38] Synopsis of DSC Award to Robert J Rogers, 1946  https://homeofheroes.com/distinguished-service-cross/world-war-ii-distinguished-service-cross-recipients/air-corps-p-s/

[39] Award of DSC to Roger’s Family, The Atlanta Constitution Thursday, November 14, 1946: 4 (Newspapers.com, courtesy of Marissa Howard, DHC.)

[40]History, World War II Accounting, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. https://www.dpaa.mil/Our-Missing/World-War-II/ Arlington National Cemetery Interment Form for Robert J Rogers Jr. April 13, 1950 (Ancestry.com).

DHC Blog: DeKalb County War Memorial