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First Name: Benny

Last Name: Rogers

Birthplace: Palestine, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Don

Date of Birth: 17 March 1930

Date of Death: 02 November 1950 (Presumed)

Rank: Sergeant First Class

Years Served:
Benny Don Rogers

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Benny Don Rogers
Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army

Benny Don Rogers was born on 17 March 1930 in Palestine, TX, to Charles Frank and Katie McEvoy Rogers. He grew up on a small farm outside Athens, TX, with his parents, his brother, Gerald Jack Rogers, and sister, June Rogers Wherley.

Rogers enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 17 after falsifying his date of birth. On 30 October 1950, he was serving as a Staff Sergeant with I Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, in Korea.

In his letter of 30 October, Rogers told his parents he'd been recently promoted to Staff Sergeant, and that he was sitting in a "fresh dug" hole, about 60 miles north of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. That was the last time his family heard from him. Three days later, the 20-year-old soldier was caught in the Battle of Unsan, in which more than 1,000 soldiers died.

Battle of Unsan

By 29 October, the 8th Cavalry Regiment had advanced north from Pyongyang to Sukchon, Sinanju and to the vicinity of Unsan, with the mission of relieving ROK elements of the I Corps in the area. Later that day, the 8th Cavalry received orders to attack all the way to the Yalu River.

On 31 October, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 8th Cavalry, relieved the ROK 12th Regiment. But on the right an enemy attack during the night had driven back the ROK 2nd Battalion more than a mile. Its commander wanted his troops to regain the lost ground before they were relieved.

By 1 November, the 8th Cavalry Regiment had advanced to within 50 miles of the Chinese border and the three battalions had moved up to relieve portions of the ROK 1st Division. The arrival of the U.S. 8th Cavalry Regiment at Unsan had set in motion a redeployment of the ROK 1st Division. Upon being relieved west of Unsan, the ROK 11th Regiment had shifted southeast to establish contact with the ROK 8th Division on the corps boundary. The ROK 12th Regiment moved to a rest and reserve assembly area at Ipsok south of the Kuryong River, six air miles from Unsan. Still engaged in the battle at Unsan, the ROK 15th Regiment was desperately trying to hold its position across the Samt'an River east of the 8th Cavalry Regiment. In short, the US 8th Cavalry was to the north, west, and south of Unsan; the ROK 1st Division to the northeast, east, and southeast of it.

Later in the morning of 1 November, patrols from the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 8th Cavalry, clashed with soldiers clearly identified as the Red Chinese CCF (Chinese Communist Forces). Contact with the CCF had begun increasing that afternoon, starting in the sector of the 1st Battalion, north of Unsan, then spreading west into the sector covered by the 2nd Battalion. By 1200 hours on 1 November, the Chinese had cut and blocked the main road six air miles south of Unsan with sufficient strength to turn back two rifle companies which had been strongly supported by air strikes during daylight hours. The CCF had set the stage for an attack that night against the 8th Cavalry Regiment and the ROK 15th Regiment. The CCF attack north of Unsan had gained strength in the afternoon of 1 November against the ROK 15th Regiment on the east, and gradually it extended west into the zone of the 8th Cavalry Regiment. The first probing attacks there, accompanied by mortar barrages came at 1700 hours against the right flank units, Companies "A" and "B", 1st Battalion. There was also something new in the enemy fire: support-rockets fired from trucks.
When dusk fell that evening, enemy soldiers were on three sides of the 8th Cavalry - the north, west, and south. Only the ground to the east, held by the ROK 15th Regiment, was not in Chinese possession. As the battle grew, the attack of the CCF, well planned and executed in strength, broke through the ROK 15th Regiment. Following the issue of warning alerts of an impending withdrawal and armed with the most recent intelligence data, Col. Holmes, Chief of Staff, 1st Cavalry Division, issued a final order for the 8th Cavalry Regiment to withdraw at 2400 hours. Soon afterwards, at about 0100 hours on 2 November, the CCF cut the withdrawal route of the 1st and 2nd Battalion.

The 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry had expanded its basic ammunition as well as the reserve which had been sent down from the regiment. "A" Company had engaged in "hand-to-hand" combat on both flanks. Receiving the division withdrawal order at midnight, with the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 8th Cavalry in heavy contact, the Regimental Commander, ordered a withdrawal to the south. The plan was for the 3rd Battalion to cover the withdrawal.

By 0200 hours on 2 November, the Chinese had blocked the last remaining road for a possible retreat overland. South of Unsan, the 3rd Battalion, commanded by Major Ormond, had dug in just north of the Nammyon River. By dawn, the entire regiment was completely surrounded. The bulk of the 3rd Battalion were trapped by the Chinese. They formed into two islands of resistance. All day long fighter aircraft and bombers pounded the enemy positions. The battalion took heavy losses in its officers and enlisted men. The Commanding Officer, Major Ormond, was badly wounded and the staff were all wounded or missing in action.

The troopers used the daylight respite gained from the air cover to dig an elaborate series of trenches and retrieve rations and ammunition from the vehicles that had escaped destruction. An L-5 plane flew over and dropped a mail bag of morphine and bandages. A helicopter also appeared and hovered momentarily a few feet above the 3rd Battalion, intending to land and evacuate the more seriously wounded, but enemy fire hit it and it departed without landing. The battalion group was able to communicate with the pilot of a Mosquito plane overhead who said a relief column was on its way.

Just after dark, a plane dropped a message to the 3rd Battalion with orders that they are to begin an orderly withdrawal. The withdrawal route indicated was the only one possible - east from the road fork south of Unsan, across the Kuryong River, and then by the main supply route of the ROK 1st Division to Ipsok and Yongbyon. Major Millikin, 1st Battalion Commanding Officer, telephoned Colonel William Walton, 2nd Battalion Commanding Officer, that he would try to hold Unsan until the 2nd Battalion cleared the road junction south of it. Then he would withdraw. The 3rd Battalion, south of Unsan, was to bring up the regimental rear.

After examining all the options, the remaining men of the 3rd Battalion, decided to stand and fight even though they faced a full division of the CCF. The night brought a heavy bombardment of 120mm mortar fire and a mass attack of the CCF. Over a thousand enemy died outside the perimeter. With their own ammunition nearly spent, during the lull that followed, the men searched the battlefield around the perimeter to retrieve weapons and ammunition from the enemy dead. On the morning of 3 November a three man patrol went to the former battalion command post dugout and discovered that during the night the Chinese had taken out some of the wounded. Among the 800 men of the ill-fated 3rd Battalion, only 200 made it out.

SFC Rogers was reported as missing in action as of 2 November 1950.


On a crisp autumn morning in East Texas, the dreaded news arrived by telegram. "The Secretary of the Army has asked me to express his deep regret that your son has been reported missing in action since 2 Nov. 1950…" The words leapt off the page. The small frame farmhouse that he had helped his Dad build soon swelled with friends, neighbors and relatives who heard the bad news. In the days that followed, a mother, devastated by loss, reached out for respite by continuing to write letters to her son - - letters that returned a few weeks later stamped, "Return to Sender" "Verified MIA."

Medals and Awards

Purple Heart
Korean Service Medal
United Nations Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Republic of Korea War Service Medal


Combat Infantryman Badge
Parachutist Badge

Rogers Comes Home

In 2011, Rogers' family was notified that remains believed to be those of SFC Benny Don Rogers had been recovered in North Korea. However, they would be undergoing enhanced DNA testing.

The long-awaited phone call came on 26 September 2011. A seemingly routine records update conversation changed dramatically when the question was asked, "Are you sitting down?" In an emotional mixture of shock, joy and relief, the surprising news that SFC Rogers' remains had been identified was confirmed.

At age 97, his mother died after 58 years of grieving for her son, her prayers for a funeral for him never came true. Sadly, by only three years she missed seeing her boy come home, her "good kid" as she called him.

How does a family describe the barrage of emotions? Overwhelming joy? Yes, that a lost soldier can be laid to rest next to his brother, sister, and a father and mother who grieved for the remainder of their lives. Tremendous sadness? Yes, for a young life cut tragically short. Extreme shock? Yes, for an event every family member prayed and desperately hoped for, but never really believed would happen.

On 12 November 2011, funeral services for Sergeant First Class Benny Don Rogers were held at the Willow Springs Baptist Church in Athens, TX. Interment with full military honors took place at Willow Springs Cemetery in Athens amid a sea of flag-waving veterans, supporters, and family members. Another fallen hero had finally come home.

Honoree ID: 3018   Created by: MHOH




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