Homer Rogers Collection
Homer Rogers was born on January 27, 1918 in Polk County, Arkansas. He spent most of his life in Arkansas. With the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States entrance into World War II (1939-1945), Homer Rogers signed up for the Arkansas draft board on February 7, 1942. He was one of the first candidates from Polk County, Arkansas, to volunteer for officer training. After passing two physical exams, the Army sent Rogers to Camp Robertson on June 15. Rogers went through processing at Robertson over the next few days. He again passed all examinations and took an oath officially making him a member of the United States Army. His serial number was 38178000. Rogers only spent eight days at Robertson where he received some training and learned how to do kitchen police duty (having been pulled for the task three times in the eight days). Rogers was called along with three other men to put on Class A uniforms and report for transfer. One of the other men was Earnest E. Bradley, a lawyer from Blytheville, Arkansas. Rogers and Bradley would train and often bunk together until they were given their first commissions.
The men received new orders to report to the Quartermaster Training Center at Fort Francis E. Warren, Wyoming. This began Rogers long career in the war as a member of the Quartermaster (QM) Corps. The base consisted of five Quartermaster Training Regiments, the Quartermaster Officers Candidate School, the Reserve Officer’s School for Quartermaster Officers, and the Station Compliment. A creek divided it into two sections, an old and new. Rogers was assigned to Company D of the Third QM Training Regiment.
Soon after their arrival, Rogers platoon was chosen to represent the fort in the local rodeo going on at the time. They spent eight hours a day learning close order drill and manual of arms in order to be ready to march in a little parade everyday of the six-day rodeo. Many “fell out” or quite due to exhaustion until they were used to the training. At one point, their platoon officer fell out after giving a speech to the rest of the troops about how it was important not to fall out. The parade began on July 20th. Rogers’s unit marched on every one of those days but was allowed to sit in a special section of bleachers and watch the rodeo.
After the rodeo came rifle training. Rogers trained with the British Lee Enfield rifle. The range was located in an open area where the wind blew constantly. This caused many in the unit to get bad scores on their rifle training, as the Enfield did not have a sight to adjust for wind. Rogers qualified with the rank Sharpshooter and was the second highest scorer in this group. Most men in the unit received the low rank of Marksmen and nobody received the top rank of Expert.
(Left) This photo was made just after arriving at the camp [Fort Warren, Wyoming]. I was assigned to a tent area across the company street from company headquarters.
(Right) This photo is one of the theaters that was used in our OCS classes for class training, usually for lectures. These theaters were used when the entire class had to attend a lecture or training film. At night, they did have movies we could attend, if we had the time.
Rogers’s unit spent the next three and half weeks training in the Administration and Personnel School. At the end of the school, Rogers received a certificate that said he was best suited as a chief clerk. He spent the next few weeks doing odd jobs around camp while waiting for entrance into the Officer Candidate School (OCS).
After spending a good deal of time wondering where they would be sent to OCS, Rogers’s entire unit was called into formation on September 28, 1942. Part of the unit was sent to train in Virginia at Camp Lee while the other remained at Fort Warren. Rogers was assigned to Fort Warren. It was at this time that Rogers was promoted to the rank of corporal.
Rogers and his unit were moved over to the new part of Fort Warren where they were assigned Company A, Second Platoon of the Quartermaster Regiment. Rogers and Bradley were assigned to the same company and bunked next to each other. On September 29th the men drew their assignments. Putting his Army career to the winds of chance, Rogers drew Motor Operations Training. Motor Operations consisted of the care, maintenance, and operation of Army supply trucks. These trucks hauled supplies, equipment, and troops, sometimes to dangerous front line positions. OCS training began on October 1, 1942.
Rogers found the new schedule of training to be rigorous. Waking up long before the sun came across the horizon, Rogers spent most of his morning learning drill, and doing physical training. Later in the afternoon came training films, classes, and other courses. Failure to pass three or more subjects meant dismissal from the class. Out of the 204 candidates in Company A, only 152 received commissions. Rogers was able to pass all his subjects, though there were hard times. In particular there was a week where Rogers was waiting to hear about his first-born baby girl. He was barely able to think about anything else until the telegraph came stating that both the daughter and mother were healthy and happy. On December 23rd, the men were lined up to receive their commissions.
Rogers describes how he was unable to attend the birth of his daughter in 1942.
Rogers’s first commission as a second lieutenant was to the 2nd Battalion, 49th QM Regiment at Fort Sill, but for training purposes only as the units officers positions were filled making Rogers an extra. After taking a short leave to see his wife and newborn daughter, Rogers’s left on January 3, 1943, to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where the 49th was stationed. Before long the unit was called up to serve in Africa. As an extra officer, Rogers received a new unit assignment instead of deploying with the unit. However, he almost stayed with the 49th QM Regiment. As a segregated African American unit, two warrant officer positions were required to be filled by white officers, as no black officers were available. A telegraph was sent to Fort Sill but Rogers was already in route to his new unit and could not make it to the embarkation point in time to join the unit.
Rogers moved to Camp McCoy where he joined up with the 476th QM Regiment. As a rifle-training officer, Rogers came up with a plan to get every man in the regiment through rifle training. The regimental commanding officer was impressed and promoted Rogers to regimental range officer. In addition to these duties, Rogers was also the battalion motor officer for First Battalion.
In August 1943, the 476th QM Regiment moved to Tennessee in order to conduct maneuvers. As Battalion Motor Officer, Rogers was in charge of bringing these vehicles up to condition in a very short amount of time. The area where they were conducting maneuvers was incredibly dusty. Dust would get into the cab and over the truck almost as soon as they were cleaned. When it came time to turn the vehicles back in, Rogers’s unit kept getting bad inspection reports that prevented them from proceeding. The commanding officer of Rogers’s battalion was incredibly agitated with him and his unit, but Rogers pointed out that the inspection crew was only looking at how clean the vehicles were, not their maintenance. After seeing this, the commanding officer told the inspection crew to stay out of his unit’s motor pool, allowing Rogers’s unit to begin turning in vehicles the next day.
(Left) This is a photo of 2nd Lieutenant Homer Rogers at his station on his first assignment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
(Right) This is a photo of Company F, 49th QM Battalion, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This units enlisted personnel were all black except for the Company Officers.
After a few months of maneuvers and other training, orders came down for Rogers’s unit to embark for England. Just before leaving, Rogers was transferred to another company in the unit in order to fill a command role. This required him to hastily draw supplies for his men who were neglected in this area by their pervious commander. The unit left the United States in January 1944. The boat trip was particular miserable for Rogers. Under the influence of seasickness, he spent most of his time in bed and ate only bread and water during the nine-day trip. When the unit arrived in England, it was the middle of the night with blackout policy in strict effect. The unit was sent to the Dracott House to stay while they waited for further orders. It was during this time that Rogers finally received a promotion to 1st lieutenant.
(Left) 3802 QM Truck Company arrived in Liverpool, England during the middle of January 1944. We were billeted in the large house in this picture, named Dracott House.
(Right) This photo is of the little church that was located on the [Dracott] estate. The Church of England held one service there each week.
Rogers filled the role of commander of 1st Platoon. While in England, however, the second in command of the company and the company commander got into a dispute over payroll. Therefore, Rogers switched positions with this officer. Thus Rogers was made Motor officer and second in command of the company as well as pay roll officer and supply officer. It was a lot of jobs to deal with but fortunately for Rogers he had good men under his command.
One such man was the company motor sergeant. He, along with the supply sergeant, came up with an ingenious idea of adding mounts to the trucks that allowed several five gallon cans of gas to be added without taking up any extra space. Another good soldier under Rogers’s command was his mess officer who created mess trucks for field use. These trucks allowed for a little cooking station to be set up inside a truck with a small awning over the serving station in order to help keep the men out of the rain. Both of these innovations were incredibly beneficial later in the war.
Four months after arriving in England, the 476th was called to the coast to prepare for the invasion of France. It was attached to the Third Army XX Corps headquarters and was designated to haul them throughout France. During his time in England, Rogers was able to see Patton speak to the officers of Third Army. The truck company had five trucks hauling equipment for the headquarters and around seven trucks loaded with gasoline. Rogers loaded with his unit aboard a liberty ship on D-Day plus one and unloaded on D-Day plus two. Luckily they had waterproofed their trucks because many them had to drive up with nearly half the cab of the truck submerged.
Rogers’s unit moved into the Normandy peninsula and waited for the rest of the XX Corps headquarters to unload onto the beach. Throughout their time in France, the 476th was able to use the hedgerows in order to hide their trucks. On August 3rd, Third Army activated and began pushing toward St. Lo. U.S. forces broke out into the Brittany peninsula, allowing them to move around the German Seventh Army and trap some 70,000 soldiers in what was known as the Falaise Pocket. During this time, the 476th were constantly on the move, sometime not staying longer then a day before moving on to the next location. This was done in order to keep up with the rapid advance of the infantry.
At one point, Rogers’s unit was camped at night. A truck carrying American dead wanted to park for the night with the unit after breaking out into Brittany. Rogers was called to the guard post when his sergeant of the guard was refusing to allow the truck in. Rogers quickly realized that the sergeant was suffering from combat stress. The next morning he sent him to the medic where he was most likely taken out of combat (as he did not return to the unit).
After a long haul across France, the Third Army began to run out of gas around the area of Metz. They were able to make it to the city but had to stop the advance because of the shortage. This is where five-gallon cans of gas added to the side of the trucks in Rogers’s unit came in handy. A gas pool was created from the extra gas that his unit hauled, allowing other units within Third Army to keep functioning despite the lack of supplies. It took two to three weeks to get the gas supplies back up to the point that the Third Army could begin moving forward again. During this time, Rogers’s moved his unit into a building they called “the Roofless Chateau” to keep safe from shelling.
Rogers describes the use of his unit's surplus gasoline to help the 3rd Army.
The Third Army moved so fast through France that they often left pockets of German troops that they simply bypassed. One such pocket was able to capture a truck that had an officer and three enlisted men. The Germans killed all but one enlisted man who then drove the truck through the American lines with the Germans hidden in the back. It was not until Third Army liberated a German POW camp where the enlisted man was interned that anyone knew this had happened. Later in the war, the Army was still bypassing pockets of Germans. However, all but the SS units surrendered, understanding that the war was lost.
During the Battle of the Bulge, the 476th helped haul supplies and troops in the Third Army counter attack. The unit was awarded a battle star for their efforts. They participated in the battle for the entire winter but by spring, they were heading toward Germany. The 476th continued to haul supplies to the front and then either POWs, casualties, or empty gas cans to the rear. Eventually, the unit crossed over the Rhine on a pontoon bridge that they helped haul to the front. As they moved through Germany, they made ample use of the many abandoned public buildings. Rogers’s also was able to acquire a good deal of ‘loot.’ He sent several Mauser rifles, the standard combat weapon of the German soldier, back to his brothers and brother-in-laws at home. He also received packages from back home. In one case, Rogers’s received a package of cookies that had accidently had laxative medicine mixed into them on the journey to Europe. It was not until most of the units officers had eaten the cookies that Rogers figured out this had happened.
While in Germany, Homer Rogers personally witnessed one of the greatest tragedies of the war. Rogers’s unit helped to liberate two concentration camps: Arnstadt and Buchenwald. Here Rogers saw first hand the horrors that political prisoners, including Jewish people, went through. From witness accounts, Rogers found out that many of the prisoners were set loose and then shot in the back as they ran away. Some survived but were in terrible condition looking more like skeletons than people. Rogers took several pictures while at the camp, including one of a massive ash pile found outside of one of the many crematoriums. Another picture shows a pile of dead bodies waiting outside a chute used to send the bodies into the crematorium. During his time at the concentration camps, Rogers saw some of the highest-ranking generals in the war visit, including George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, and Omar Bradley. These men walked around the camp, listened to eyewitness reports, and were even given a demonstration of the torture used against the prisoners there. Pictures taken by Rogers while at the camp are featured below.
(Left) The Buchenwald Concentration Camp, located 4 miles from the city of Weimar, Germany, was overran by the Third Army on April 13, 1945. My unit hauled infantry soldiers in this operation. I was in this camp shortly after it had been liberated. The above picture that I took, shows bodies on a trailer ready for cremation. The building has openings and slides so that the bodies could be slid into the ovens for cremation.
(Right) The above picture shows a pile of ashes behind the building where they cleaned out the ovens. The soldier in the picture is my jeep driver who is about six feet tall. Due to the size and height of the pile, this has to represent more than a thousand bodies. This camp was used by the Germans as a laboratory and many died from this testing.
(Left) The above picture is an enlargement of a picture I took, along with others, on the day elements of the Third Army overran this concentration camp at Arnstadt, Germany. Our unit hauled some of the infantry in this operation, and some of our men are in this picture. Some of the prisoners were still alive, and were able to tell us that the German guards, when they knew we were about to take the prison, turned the prisoners out of their cells and told them to run to escape, but were shot in the back as they ran. These prisoners were political prisoners.
(Right) Photo made April 11, 1945, at the Arnstadt Concentration Camp, which was overran by elements of the 20th Corps, Third Army. From right to left, General Walton H. Walker, Commanding General of 20th Corps, General of the Armies Dwight D. Eisenhower, Overall Commander of the European Theater, General Omar R. Bradley, Commanding General of 12th Army Group, and General George S. Patton, Commanding General of the Third US Army. Others in this photo are aides and military police.
After helping to liberate these camps, Rodger’s unit continued to move deeper into Germany. However, they were forced to stop outside of Dresden as per the requirement agreed by the Allied powers to let the Russians take Berlin and East Germany. Therefore, Rogers’s unit moved south toward Austria. They were outside Linz when the war finally ended in Europe on May 8, 1945.
Rogers had to wait before he could be sent home, having to serve occupation duty. He hauled supplies, and a large number of POWs. However, life was easy for the unit since they were out of combat. They did not have to worry about the civilians attacking them, as most were morally defeated as much as physically. They were also able to use some of the POWs to help with their daily tasks including cleaning the trucks. Rogers was eventually transferred to the 10th Armor Division to be sent home, having 118 points of the required 90. However, he was placed on a 90-day hold list after the Quartermaster he was under in the 10th Armor realized how great Rogers was at organization. He helped better secure the units fuel dump and created coal, wood, and other supply dumps.
During this time Rogers saw much of Bavaria. He went on several hiking trips with the Alpine Walking Club and was even allowed to visit Berchtesgaden where Hitler had his mountain retreat known as the “Eagles Nest.” Finally, Rogers was allowed to go home along with the rest of the 10th Armor Division. He left with the unit for the coast on September 15th, boarded a boat home, and was in the States by August. After a short period of discharge, Homer Rogers reunited with his wife Dorthay and daughter Wyona. Rogers chose to join the Army Reserves and started his new life with his family after a 90-day leave.
(Left) When I reported to the [10th Armored] Division, I was assigned to the Quartermaster Section. The officer in charge was a Lt. Col. from Toledo, Ohio. He liked to hike, so he recruited me to be his companion on several 2 to 4 mile mountain hikes. This photo shows me on one of these hikes.
(Right) The officer in charge of the QM section in the 10th Armored Division also liked to go to places of interest, and always asked me to go with him. This photo was taken of me on the balcony of Hitler's hide-out in the Alps.
Rogers spent most of his time in civilian life running various supply stores around Arkansas with his brothers and brother-in-laws. It was not until August 1950 that his reserve unit was called to service to fight in the Korean War (1950-1953). Rogers joined the 937th Field Artillery as commanding officer of the service battery. He held his World War II rank of captain. After arriving with the 937th at Fort Hood, Texas, Rogers realized that only he and another officer had any training in field artillery. All the other officers of the unit had to leave for Oklahoma to receive training, leaving just two officers to train the enlisted men in field operations. Throughout the Korean War, the 937th would only ever have half officer strength.
Just as they were in World War II, supplies were a major issue for Rogers. Thinking ahead, Rogers had his men make a list of all the supplies they would need before going overseas. They then packed these supplies in a number of crates, two per a gun. These crates shipped from San Francisco but 23 of them were unaccounted for when they arrived in Korea. Therefore, despite Rogers careful planning, the 937th was forced to requisition the supplies all over again. On top of this, many of the supplies were left over from World War II and in horrible condition.
Getting new supplies in Korea turned out to be a big problem as well. According to Rogers, the supply system in Pusan, Korea, where his men disembarked, was terribly inefficient. Once at their assembly area, the 937th did not have any trucks to go back to the ship to haul their supplies. What’s more, Rogers and a fellow officer were forced to hitch hike in order to get to a motor pool for a vehicle. When Rogers went to get winter bedrolls for his men, he was told it would take three days before the 937th would receive them. Rogers’s men had already spent one night in freezing temperatures and Rogers was not going to allow that to happen again. He argued with the supply officer until a lieutenant colonel came and straightened out the situation, allowing Rogers to get his much needed bedrolls for the night.
Part of the 937th was a detail of Korean boys used to help around the camp. Rogers personally hired these boys to remain with the unit through the campaign. Kim Chai Ho (Chaiho Kim), 13 years old, was the first boy hired. He spoke some English and brought many of his classmates to join him. These workers were a great help to the 937th throughout their time in Korea. It was four days after unloading from the boat that the 937th finally got word that they were heading north to fight. The whole unit loaded their supplies into transport trucks and headed for Inchon.
The trip took two days. Once in the area of Inchon, the 937th was held back from combat until they received all of their supplies. During this time, Rogers found a discarded 800-gallon tank. Taking plumbing equipment from an abandoned shop, Rogers was able to rig up a mobile shower unit, complete with heated water. This allowed the Service Battery to shower nearly every day in the summer and once or twice a week in the winter.
Finally, the 937th went into combat. The job of the Service Battery was to remain behind the unit’s gun emplacements and keep track of the substantial supplies needed to run an artillery unit. During this time, the Service Battery was constantly on the move as the 937th moved from position to position firing on enemy concentrations. The unit was on the 38th parallel when the first retreat order was issued. This was part of the major Allied retreat against counter-attack by Chinese ‘volunteer’ troops.
After moving to a more permanent camp, Rogers was allowed emergency leave in June 1951 to be with his wife while she had major surgery. He returned to Korea in time for the beginning of truce talks, which meant his unit was to stay in their camp during the winter months of 51-52. During this time, Rogers worked to get Kim Chai Ho admittance to the United States to go to school. Kim was allowed to return with Rogers to Arkansas where he attended high school. He excelled at school, went on to Ouachita Baptist College, and eventually obtained his Ph.D. from Columbia.
(Left) Chaiho Kim standing on the front porch of his family home in Seoul, Korea, in 1952.
(Right) Chaiho Kim at Chulwon District, Korea, on January 5, 1952.
Rogers was allowed to come home from Korea in March 1952. He immediately sent in his resignation from the National Guard, which was granted. After ten years of service spanning across to major conflicts, Rogers’s time in the service was finally at an end. He continued to work in the various stores he owned, retiring in 1982, and raised a large family. Sadly, Rogers passed away on May 23rd, 2009. His service will always be remembered.
Homer Rogers with his wife Dorthay