Charles Calvin Rogers MOH

b. 06/09/1929 Claremont, West Virginia. d. 21/09/1990 Munich, Germany.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 01/11/1968 Fishhook, Vietnam.

Charles C Rogers MOH

Rogers was born on September 6, 1929, and grew up with his brother and three sisters outside of the coal-mining town of Claremont, West Virginia. Rogers’ dad was a coal miner and World War I veteran, which could be what nurtured his desire to serve.

Rogers, who attended the all-Black Dubois High School during the segregation era, excelled as a student. He was consistently on the honor roll, played quarterback for the football team and was elected the student body president. He graduated in 1947 and attended West Virginia State College (now University), where he earned a degree in mathematics. Rogers commissioned into the Army through ROTC after he graduated in June of 1951.

His first few years as a soldier were spent serving in artillery commands while the service was being desegregated. Rogers worked his way up the ranks and was sent to the Army Command and General Staff College when he was a major. After graduating in 1964, he was sent to Germany — his second stint in the country — to train an artillery unit. After that, he earned his first battalion command at Fort Lewis in Washington.

Rogers was put in command of the 1st Battalion, 5th Artillery, 1st Infantry Division, and sent to Vietnam in July 1967. He spent the next two years on the battlefront. On October 31, 1968, then-Lt. Col. Rogers’ artillery unit was positioned at Fire Support Base Rita in southern Vietnam. It was close to the Cambodian border and the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a supply route that the North Vietnamese Army used to shuttle supplies and troops into South Vietnam. That evening, Rogers noticed a lot of activity across the border, but the rules of engagement said he couldn’t fire into Cambodia, so he waited. The NVA didn’t follow such rules, though. Around 3:30 a.m. on November 1, they bombarded FSB Rita with heavy mortars, rockets and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Soon enough, their soldiers breached the defensive perimeter of the base. Finally, Rogers’ battalion could attack, and he made sure he was right at the forefront of the action.

Rogers ran through a hail of exploding shells to rally his dazed crewmen into firing their howitzers back at the much larger enemy. Despite being hit by an exploding round, he led some of those men in a ground battle against enemy soldiers who’d breached the howitzer’s position. Rogers was again wounded during that foray, but he continued fighting, killing several enemy soldiers and driving the rest back. Rogers refused medical attention and instead worked to get the defensive perimeter set back up. When more enemy troops poured through a different section of the defensive line, Rogers directed that artillery fire, too, and led another successful counterattack on the charging forces, encouraging his men throughout the difficult endeavour.

At dawn, the enemy tried to overrun the base a third time, so Rogers continued directing his unit’s fire. He even joined a struggling howitzer crew after several men were hit by enemy fire and the gun had been rendered inoperable. Rogers helped the crew get the massive gun operating again, but in doing so, he was hit a third time. He could no longer physically help his men, but he continued to direct and encourage them.

Rogers’ valour helped push back the enemy that day, which finally retreated for good. Twelve U.S. soldiers died and dozens more were wounded; however, Army records show that the casualties on the enemy’s side were much higher.

Rogers’ wounds were eventually treated, and he returned to the U.S in August 1969. On May 14, 1970, he received the Medal of Honor from President Richard M. Nixon during a White House ceremony. Rogers continued his career in the Army. He attended the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and graduated in 1971. He also earned a master’s degree in vocational/educational guidance from nearby Shippensburg University. Rogers went on to command more units and take high-level leadership assignments, his last of which was in Germany. After 32 years of service, Rogers retired in 1984 as a major general. To this day, he is the highest-ranking Black Medal of Honor recipient.

When he retired to civilian life, Rogers was ordained as a Baptist minister. He continued to live in Germany and serve troops in that capacity. Rogers died September 21, 1990, of prostate cancer at the age of 61. He was still living in Germany at the time, but he was interred at Arlington National Cemetery. He is survived by his wife, Margaret, and their three daughters: Jackie, Linda and Barbara.



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Lt. Col. Rogers, Field Artillery, distinguished himself in action while serving as commanding officer, 1st Battalion, during the defense of a forward fire support base. In the early morning hours, the fire support base was subjected to a concentrated bombardment of heavy mortar, rocket, and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Simultaneously the position was struck by a human wave ground assault, led by sappers who breached the defensive barriers with bangalore torpedoes and penetrated the defensive perimeter. Lt. Col. Rogers with complete disregard for his safety moved through the hail of fragments from bursting enemy rounds to the embattled area. He aggressively rallied the dazed artillery crewmen to man their howitzers and he directed their fire on the assaulting enemy. Although knocked to the ground and wounded by an exploding round, Lt. Col. Rogers sprang to his feet and led a small counterattack force against an enemy element that had penetrated the howitzer position. Although painfully wounded a second time during the assault, Lt. Col. Rogers pressed the attack killing several of the enemy and driving the remainder from their positions. Refusing medical treatment, Lt. Col. Rogers reestablished and reinforced the defensive positions. As a second human wave attack was launched against another sector of the perimeter, Lt. Col. Rogers directed artillery fire on the assaulting enemy and led a second counterattack against the charging forces. His valorous example rallied the beleaguered defenders to repulse and defeat the enemy onslaught. Lt. Col. Rogers moved from position to position through the heavy enemy fire, giving encouragement and direction to his men. At dawn the determined enemy launched a third assault against the fire base in an attempt to overrun the position. Lt. Col. Rogers moved to the threatened area and directed lethal fire on the enemy forces. Seeing a howitzer inoperative due to casualties, Lt. Col. Rogers joined the surviving members of the crew to return the howitzer to action. While directing the position defense, Lt. Col. Rogers was seriously wounded by fragments from a heavy mortar round which exploded on the parapet of the gun position. Although too severely wounded to physically lead the defenders, Lt. Col. Rogers continued to give encouragement and direction to his men in the defeating and repelling of the enemy attack. Lt. Col. Rogers’ dauntless courage and heroism inspired the defenders of the fire support base to the heights of valor to defeat a determined and numerically superior enemy force. His relentless spirit of aggressiveness in action are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.