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First Name: William

Last Name: Rosson

Birthplace: Des Moines, IA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Bradford

Date of Birth: 25 August 1918

Date of Death: 12 December 2004

Rank: General

Years Served: 1940-1975
William Bradford Rosson

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


William Bradford Rosson
General, U.S. Army

William Bradford Rosson was born in Des Moines, IA, on 25 August 1918. He obtained his Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from the University of Oregon in 1940 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry in the U.S. Army through ROTC.

Military Career

Rosson's military assignments (in chronological order) included:

Battalion Commander with the 3rd Infantry Division, 10 campaigns in Europe
Commander, 30th Infantry Regiment, Army of Occupation, Germany, 1945-1946
Instructor, Command and General Staff College, 1946-1949
Joint War Plans Branch, Army General Staff, Washington, D.C., 1949-1951
Plans, Policy and Operations Division, Supreme Headquarters Allied
Powers Europe, Paris, 1951-1953
Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, 1953
U.S. Military Advisory Group Indo-China, 1954
Commander, 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, Germany, June 1955-June 1956
Army Member, Chairman's Staff Group, Joint Chief of Staff, Washington, D.C., 1956-1959
National War College, 1960
Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, USAREUR, Germany, 1960-1961
Assistant Division Commander and Airborne Brigade Commander, 8th Infantry Division, Germany, 1961-1962
Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, for special warfare, 1962-1963
Director, U.S. Strike Command Joint Test and Evaluation Tak Force, 1963-1965
Chief of Staff, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), 25 June 1965-April 1967
Commanding General, Task Force Oregon (later the 23d Infantry (Americal) Division), April 1967-June 1967
Commanding General, IFFV 31 July 1967-1 March 1968
Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Military Assistance Command Forward, Vietnam (MACV), 1 March 1968-10 March 1968
Commanding General, Provisional Corps (later XXIV Corps), Vietnam, 10 March 1968-31 July 1968.
Director, Policy and Plans Directorate, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C., August 1969-April 1969
Special Assistant to COMUSMACV, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, April 1969
Deputy Commander, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), 1 May 1969-15 October 1970
Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC), Hawaii, 16 October 1970-January 1973
Commander-in-Chief, United States Southern Command, Canal Zone, January 1973 to July 1975 

Career Highlights

Rosson fought in ten campaigns with the 3rd Infantry Division during World War II in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, and Germany. At the age of 25, he was a battalion commander when he was wounded in Sicily. He was awarded the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his actions on the Anzio beachhead in Italy.

He participated in four amphibious assaults during World War II, helping plan the invasion of Southern France and fighting with VI Corps all the way to Germany. He was a regimental commander during the early occupation of Germany.

He later served on the Army General Staff in the Pentagon; in General Eisenhower's NATO headquarters in Paris, France; and on the staff of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, again in the Pentagon. Troop duty included commanding two Infantry regiments in Germany and the European Airborne Brigade, also in Germany.

Rosson displayed physical courage in his career. In 1954, while assigned to a U.S. Military Advisory Group in Indochina, he flew over the battle of Dien Bien Phu, the bloody altercation that ended French involvement in Vietnam. The first two Americans killed in Vietnam combat, both civilians, died in similar flyovers when their aircraft was downed by withering antiaircraft fire from the Việt Minh.

Rosson served four tours in Vietnam covering six years; longer than any other senior commander in that war. He once took over I Corps for a Marine commander on leave; a rare case in which an Army officer was in command of a predominantly Marine formation.

General Rosson was a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College, the Army War College, and the National War College.

He retired from the Army in 1975.

Medals, Awards and Badges

Distinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Legion of Merit with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze Star Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Purple Heart
Air Medal with Award Numeral 5
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with 4 Palms
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Presidential Unit Citation
Army Meritorious Unit Commendation
Army Valorous Unit Award
Combat Infantryman Badge
Master Parachutist Badge

Distinguished Service Cross Citation (Synopsis)

Major (Infantry) William Bradford Rosson (ASN: 0-23556), United States Army, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 31 January 1944, in the vicinity of Anzio, Italy. Major Rosson's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 3d Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, Fifth U.S. Army, General Orders No. 129 (July 30, 1944)

He also received the Doughboy Award, the Infantry's highest award.

Side Story Regarding Medals

From this story, it is apparent that Rosson did not take his medals and awards too seriously. After the war, while working in Europe under Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, Rosson noted that Montgomery was wearing all of his 38 ribbons. According to a story that made the rounds at NATO headquarters, Montgomery then asked each officer in the room, in turn, how many ribbons he had earned. Rosson, who had no idea how many awards he had, answered, "Thirty-nine." Montgomery left the room in a huff, and the American's popularity with British staff officers soared.

In Retirement

Following his retirement from the Army in 1975, General Rosson obtained a Master of Letters degree in International Relations from Oxford University in England. Among his pursuits were lecturing on national security and international relations, serving as a panelist, conducting professional research, and writing for military agencies and journals.

In 1984, he moved from Florida to Salem, near Roanoke, VA, after he married Bertha Mitchell Rosson, and became involved as a board member of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.

Death and Burial

General William Bradford Rosson died on 12 December 2004 of a heart attack at his home in Salem, VA. He was 86. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 30, Lot 877. He was survived by his wife, Bertha.

Honoree ID: 316   Created by: MHOH




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