Lieutenant Lee Rosco Shares His Experience During The Vietnam War: If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they made to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor our veterans is to tell their stories. Today, we are interviewing Veteran Lieutenant Lee Rosco as he shares his experience during the Vietnam War. Tune in now to learn more!
Air Date: 10/02/2017
Guests: Lieutenant Lee Rosco, David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture, this is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, all of it from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
Our host of the program, David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker, pastor, and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state rep, national speaker, and author.
Find out more about us and the program at our websites WallBuilders.com also WallBuildersLive.com.
Tim, you’re going to have the chance to visit with one of the veterans that we have, a great honor here on the program to highlight and tell their stories. Lee Rosco with us here in a moment, after the break.
We Get To Talk With American Heroes
Yeah, it’s always such an honor anytime you talk to someone who is a true American hero. We don’t say that flippantly. When you look at people that have served our military, obviously we want to appreciate every veteran, we appreciate every individual that fights and puts their life on the line, willing to give it all for our nation.
But especially when you can go back generations to find people that from previous generations whether it be Vietnam, World War II as in this case. Certainly, an honor to talk to an American hero.
Especially when they have stories where they’ve gone through, really, what all of us hope we never go through and that’s war. They go through conflict. And you see what happened to them, you hear their story, and you see it from their perspective, man, it really helps us appreciate what we have and often take for granted.
If you don’t know the sacrifices people have made then you think America is just a happy accident and whoever comes here and whatever we do we’re always going to be fine. No, not the case. It takes sacrifices. That’s why hearing the stories of these guys, particularly the ones that have been through it, these are always really intriguing stories, help us better appreciate our role as citizens and the country that God has blessed us with.
Stay with us folks. Lee Rosco, 0ur special guest today.
Moment From American History
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Crime is one of America’s most serious problems today. Its effects reach not only the direct victims of this violence but even those who have not been attacked. The concern for crime has not been limited to this century however, our Founding Fathers were also concerned about it.
Yet, the effects of crime unquestionably were much less in their generation. So what was their deterrent to crime? Signer of the Constitution James McHenry answered that question.
He explained, “The Holy Scriptures can alone secure to society order and peace. In vain without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw protections around our institutions. Bibles are strong defenses, where they abound men cannot pursue wicked courses.”
Founding Father James McHenry believed that widely teaching the Bible was the best means to deter crime. For more information on God’s hand in American history contact WallBuilders at 1 800 8 REBUILD.
A True Miracle During World War II
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live! I’m Tim Barton, and I’m joined by a very special guest Lee Rosco who is a retired military Vietnam veteran, he was a first lieutenant. Lieutenant Rosco, welcome to our program, thanks for being with us today.
Thank you for having me on. This is quite a privilege.
It’s an honor for us. I have a couple of brothers in the military, and cousins, and so many friends. We especially here at WallBuilders love and support our military. Anytime we can talk to people that have served our nation, especially in a military capacity, it is a treat for us. I would love if you would just take some time and share with our listeners some of your story.
I would be glad to. How many hours do you have? Just kidding. First of all, Tim, I would like to clarify. I did not retire from the military, I retired from serving the Army as a civil servant. I went to Boston University, and while there I was very cognizant of a heart that God gave me to serve in the military. They had both Air Force and Army. I struggled with that decision. Finally, I decided on going to Army ROTC. What’s really interesting is I wound up marrying an Air Force veteran, so my wife is also a veteran.
I feel compelled to ask, which branch is better?
Which branch is better? My wife tells me- she was an Air Force NCO and I was an Army officer, and she says that she outranks me. So should we leave it there?
I think that’s just marriage in general, though so, I don’t know if rankings even matter at that point.
That’s right. I think each service- My dad was a World War II veteran in the Navy and I know some excellent veterans of the Marines. I would have to say that each branch of service has its mission and is equally, what shall I say? There’s no one better than the other.
We all put our lives on the line. I don’t care whether you are a Coast Guard in World War Two fighting off Nazi submarines on the East Coast, or Japanese submarines on the West Coast, or personnel putting their lives on the line.
I’d like to tell you a very brief story about what happened to my dad in World War II. I was very fortunate to have obtained his deck log. He came back safe, thank God. And he was able to tell me one particular story that I thought was very gripping.
Many of your listeners remember the Bible story where the king that was in charge of the Jews in exile was misusing the gold cups from the tabernacle. Well, a hand came out and broke his epitaph on the wall *. And of course, that very night he died because an enemy army was coming in under the city on the waterways a damn up.
Well, my dad’s LST- LST, many of your listeners will know is, unfortunately, they dubbed it, Long Slow Target. But anyway, it was beached, the bow doors were open, and the stern anchors were out.
The Japanese, one of their tactics on their kamikaze, the suicide planes, was to come out of the sun so the * aircraft gunners could hardly see what they were shooting at and to drop their load by slamming into your ship.
This day, a literal hand and finger came out of a cloud as the Japanese plane was nearing its target. It tipped the wing of the plane over so that the Japanese plane keeled over and smashed into an exploded in the water just beyond the stern of the ship saving all aboard.
Dad was very cognizant of the fact that we serve a living God and he intervenes as he sees fit. He brought Dad safely home. I kid people today because a lot of people drive these Mitsubishi foreign cars and they are the ones that made the Japanese Zero fighter planes during World War II.
Wow, that’s a piece of history that I did not know. That’s very interesting.
We All Have A Unique And Important Job To Do
Well the LST’s were used dramatically in the island hopping campaign that MacArthur and * designed. Matter of fact, we have a relative right here in Iowa who is 95 years old and he also served. One of the ones that are surviving. We were losing them and I want to say thank you to all those who are War II vets that are still alive. Please tell your story and share with us how God protected you and brought you home safe.
That desire to serve finally manifested itself in a decision to serve in the army. That was at the time, Tim, when President Kennedy was doing his, “Everybody needs to go on a 50-mile hike.” Back then we did not use athletic shorts, and T-shirts, and these wonderful running shoes we have today. We used combat boots and fatigues.
So our commander, cadet commander, decided we would do a 50-mile march which we did up into the hills of Massachusetts and then back again. Of course, by the time we got back we were losing a little bit of skin, shall we say, off the bottom of our feet.
I’m sure so.
But we had good training. I actually have a skill God gave me in music so I wound up leading the band. Back then the music lesson started in Massachusetts schools around third grade. So I was able to take up the drums and played in a lot of marching bands.
As we progressed through the ranks we learned more and more skills, how to be good combat soldiers, or soldiers in any part of the military. I think your listeners will remember the story of David when he was out with 600 men and 200 of them were so exhausted he had to leave them by the baggage, to take care of the bag and protect it, and so forth.
The other 400 went forward in a combat situation and returned victorious with a lot of spoils. The 400 were a little bit, they had a bad attitude about sharing the spoil with the 200 that were left behind by the stuff, so to speak. I think that’s one of the versions uses, that word.
I would call it logistical Christians, I would like to make that parallel. And David said, “No, stop, wait. We part alike. The people that stayed by the stuff performed an important mission just as well as those who are in direct contact on the front line.”
Back when I was in the Army we had about 15,000 men division. but not all of those men were on the frontline. Maybe about eight or nine. The rest of us served in personnel matters, R&R, bringing up the food, cooking, ammunition, or maintenance.
So, it’s very important that we remember that not everybody can be a missionary on the frontlines, or has that talent. God has given us all different talents. Some teach, some preach, some fix cars, some fix airplanes, and some translate languages.
Lieutenant Lee Rosco Shares His Experience During The Vietnam War
Another principle from Scripture that God has taught me over the years. I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army in August of 1965. The Army has several branches. Army, Medical Service Corps, ordnance, artillery, and that type of thing.
Somewhere along the line, I had a physical exam and my eyes did not live up to that assignment so they changed me into what is called the Army Adjutant General Corps which takes care of Personnel Management and the other areas that are important to maintaining an armed force.
But pretty much I spent time in Personnel Management making sure that we assigned soldiers. Let’s say there was an Artilleryman in one of the 4th Infantry Division or one of the artillery * up in the DMZ. We would have to make sure he had a replacement so that was part of our job.
The rules then, as a result of the Sullivan brothers- many of your audience will remember the fact that there are five brothers on, I think it was a destroyer. It was sunk by the Nazis. After that the concern was- It wiped out the entire family, you couldn’t be in a combat zone after that if your brother was there, or your sister, or whatever.
So we had to make sure that if there were siblings in the military that they didn’t serve at the same time, so that was a good rule.
At that time, Vietnam was heating up and more and more service members were being sent in that direction, air force, army navy, each person at that time had a six-year obligation. You served two years active duty, then you served two years active reserve duty, and then you served two years inactive duty and you could be called up at any time.
I embarked on my two years active duty in January 1966. The order soon came down to start deploying the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam and of course, they needed to fill some slots. So some of us that were assigned to Garrison were transferred to the 4th Infantry Division.
They sent out part of a division Main Unit ahead to establish a combat base in Play Ku, which is in the Central Highlands in Vietnam. Then a lot of us, about 5,000 of us, were shipped over on the USN as John Pope. Those transports, a lot of them, were held together by paint, if you get my drift.
Anyway, but we traveled from the harbor there to *, I think it was. And we went down to the South Pacific. I’m sure part of where my father served. I guess you’d call it a cruise at expensive Fort Sam except we ran into a typhoon, that was an interesting experience where the stern comes out with screws, the propellers came out and make all kinds of vibrations through the ship, and so forth. It rains so hard you can see the pebbles accumulate on the sea water.
We did have to pull into Manila to leave off soldier. Unfortunately, there was a fight on board and somebody got knifed. So we had to leave him off. Then we proceeded to Okinawa where they did give us a little bit of time off and we were able to visit the museum there commemorating the brave soldiers who served invading Okinawa and securing it for the allies.
Then we went on Qui Nhơn, which is a port on the coast. They offloaded us on landing craft and then took us by a deuce and a half to a nearby airfield where they flew us on C-130s to the central highlands which was our base.
I can remember my first night, no one told us that the primary had been established so we thought we were just out vulnerable out in the middle of nowhere. One of the things too, going overseas, many of the soldiers in your audience and our servicemen will remember the different odors that permeate from different countries because of their unique culture. So that was kind of an interesting experience.
But I slept with my weapon, at that time it was an N-14. Soldiers at that time were trained on all the possible weapons, most of which had been used in World War II whether it was a 50 caliber, 30 caliber, machine guns, and what they call bazooka * five rocket launchers, and that type of thing. I was a little, what shall I say? Fearful, challenged, so I slept with my N-14 that night in the tent flap, in the wind, and so forth. Not knowing that they had, in fact, established a sandbag perimeter and we were pretty secure. I learned that very quickly.
At that time the cooks, and the kitchens, and the mess halls, were all pretty well operating, which was really good. We didn’t have a lot of C-rations or K-rations that we have to eat. So we got hot meals.
We had little pockets of sandbags in and around the camp in case of mortar attacks. Everyone was considered a combat soldier. All of the people in my personal shop and so forth were taking out night patrols to secure the base at night to make sure the Viet Cong didn’t infiltrate, or throw * charges, or whatever.
Actually, what happened, another intercession from God in my life, from my perspective, the day before I was to take out my combat patrol- which meant basically you stayed awake all night and listened for sounds and that type of thing. They said that they needed a personnel officer in the train, which at that time was an open city on the coast, the coast of Vietnam.
And when you say, “open city,” that means that both sides are allowed to be in the city, right?
That is correct. And you don’t know whether your friendly Barber is a Viet Cong, or the lady on the street corner selling Cokes is a Viet Cong, or whoever. And at that time, and this is a struggle I have with rules of engagement and no front wars that seem to affect us mentally. I couldn’t even carry a weapon much less one that was loaded. So I would have to walk through these streets of this town to get to wherever I lived or perform a mission or something unprotected.
That all changed in January of 68. After I left the Viet Cong took advantage of the Tet Offensive which was their New Year celebration. When I was there in January 67 they would celebrate by firing weapons in the air and all of that kind of stuff. In January 68 the weapons weren’t firing in the air they were firing at people. So they infiltrated all over the South Vietnam and did heavy damage so they closed down that city.
In One Moment His Life Was Changed
Lieutenant Rosco, several times you’ve referred to the Bible, you’ve referred to God, and so I’m curious, as you’re going through Vietnam is that something that you are very conscious of and your faith is very connected? Or did that happen sometime later in your life?
Thank you for asking that question. This gives me an opportunity to share the fact that I became a Christian in Vietnam. Let me tell you how that happened. One day I was in a mess hall and there was another soldier there, he outranked me so, you know, he bowed and prayed. And all of a sudden my mind began going back to my upbringing where we would pray at Easter, and Christmas, and those particular holidays. And it just stimulated my thinking about my religious background.
In essence, what he did with his actions was to ask me, “If you die here where are you going?” I honestly Tim, did not have real specifics to answer that question. I felt a stirring in my heart. Then he asked me, “Hey, would you like to do a Bible study with me?” We had some extra time. “If you were to die today and stand before God and God were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’ What’s your answer?” “Oh, God will weigh the good versus the bad.”
“No, he won’t. He gave His Son who gave up his throne in Heaven to come and suffer for us that we might have life. No matter what the other religions say, only Christ came, lived, died, and rose from the dead that we might have life and it’s a free gift.”
Absolutely. Lieutenant Rosco. It’s so fun hearing you say this. Certainly as a Christian, as a believer, that is absolutely what we promote, and what the Bible teaches. But it’s really fun to hear this from specifically a military veteran, someone that served our nation.
It’s so fun to hear that it was just a friend, I don’t know if he was even a friend, just another officer you saw prey which kind of challenged and convicted by the Holy Spirit reminding you about your upbringing, he invited you to Bible study, and just that one simple, “Hey, come to Bible study.” It really seems to have changed the course of your life.
Absolutely, Tim. Of course, later on, he told me he cheated and had people praying for me. As I look at this bridge track, you have to personally trust in Christ. I don’t care if your family are the strongest Christians on earth, that’s not going to take unless you take hold of Jesus Christ personally.
That’s it. One of the things that we hear people say is, “God doesn’t have grandchildren he just has kids.” You can’t rely on someone else’s faith. You need to know him personally, there’s no doubt about it.
Honoring Our Military
Lieutenant Rosco, we’re running out of time. Is there anything else that you want to share with our listeners before we go?
Oh yes. Real quickly, I accepted Christ there in the train December 29th, 1966. They threw me right into a Bible study in Hebrews. You talk about give us milk, there was a Christian servicemen’s center there that I found out about. Actually, I was able to meet Corrie ten Boom there. She was traveling the world expressing her story about enslaved Jews and so forth.
God just gave me an immediate feast of spirituality and I was able to come back safely 13 months and two days later to the states and began a pilgrimage of serving him. About four years later the Lord opened the door to marry this cute little airforce girl and we’ve been married 43 years, three daughters, and one grandson, and God has been so richly faithful I can’t thank him enough.
Congratulations. Lieutenant Rosco, I know that certainly when many Vietnam veterans came back they were not well-received. Certainly, the attitude and tone of our nation seems to have shifted. Especially since September 11th where our military now are so appreciated.
But I know in your era, military was not nearly as appreciated. So I want to tell you, thank you so much. I know that this is way passed when you served and it’s probably long overdue that you didn’t receive the appreciation that our military should have received at that time. But we really are grateful for your service for our nation. And now especially for what you’re doing as a Christian brother for the kingdom of God. It’s been such a pleasure to talk with you today.
Thank you so much, and now you’ve got me crying.
Well, we really appreciate you and we pray for our military and we encourage our listeners to support our military. Even to this day, you are still in prayers because we pray that God blesses our veterans and those that have gone before and served us. So we really do appreciate you. Thank you for being with us on the radio program today.
Please include the ones that have come back with PTSD. They need our help and prayer.
Absolutely. That’s a great thought. And so for our listeners, we encourage you to keep these military veterans, and our active duty in your prayers, and the ones that are struggling PTSD, and all these things that they deal with coming home. We want to be a support system for them both spiritually and then personally and physically as much as we can do. But thank you so much Lieutenant Rosco for being with us today.
You’re welcome. Thank you for having me and God bless you.
We’ll be right back with David Barton and Rick Green here on WallBuilders Live.
We Want To Hear Your Vet Story
Hey, friends! If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live. Once in awhile, we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.
One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live.
You have friends and family that also served. If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at [email protected] Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!
Sacrifices That Heroes Like Lieutenant Lee Roscoe Had To Make
Welcome back! Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live! Special thanks to Lee Rosco for being on with us on our program today. Tim, another opportunity to not just get today for our live program and tell that story but have it for posterity and actually to be able to share these stories with future generations. One of the reasons I love the fact that we’ve got this CD of some of the best stories over the last few years with our veterans available on the website as well. But folks need to share these with their kids and grandkids.
There’s no doubt. Stories that we just don’t know much about our history, and our past, and especially about the sacrifices that heroes like Lee Roscoe made. It really is great to capture this story and hopefully something that we can preserve for posterity, as you mentioned. But even share with our friends and our kids one day to help them know that these are the kind of people that made America what we are.
Not only the stories of sacrifice, but even the stories of God’s intervention.
Hearing what he said about his dad in World War II and a Kamikaze Plane is coming at his dad’s ship, and they watch as a visible finger came out of the cloud and tipped the plane and caused the plane to crash without hitting the ship. Are you kidding me? What would that have been?
Forget no atheists in foxholes, how about no atheist watching the finger turn the plane over?
The other thing that really struck me, Tim, you told him, “Hey, thank you for your service as a Vietnam vet,” that little thing got him crying. I mean just that tiny amount of appreciation. Vietnam vets, they had it really tough. Guys now, even guys who don’t like what’s going on with the war on terror, they still appreciate the military.
But we were at a point in American history at that point where we hated the military, blamed those guys, and that’s not their call. They’re sent to do something. But just saying, “Thank you” to him, even these years later, got him crying. And man, that’s a great lesson for all of us is to remember to say, “Thank you” and appreciate those who have done so much. Even if we don’t always agree with what they do.
But my gosh, these guys are willing put their life on the line for their country and that’s something that we really should tell them, “We appreciate that,” and we thank them for that.
Thanks To Heroes Like Lieutenant Lee Rosco And All Military Vets
Tim said earlier, when we say, “Hero, we don’t say that flippantly.” Same thing here. You may think, “Oh, everybody does that now, gives thanks to vets.” No, a lot of these guys haven’t been thanked, especially the ones coming back from Vietnam. There are some wounds there and I don’t think it hurts to hear thank you a million times. So do exactly what David was just saying. Thanks so much for joining us today, you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!