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Mount Hope celebrates native son


The Register-Herald

MOUNT HOPE, W.Va. — Jean Evansmore ran around the tight spaces of DuBois on Main on Sunday afternoon.

Jean Evansmore speaks about the community involvement that has kept DuBois on Main going during its fifth anniversary Sunday in Mount Hope.
(Register-Herald photo by Chris Jackson)

The president of the local museum was readying the space for some cherished guests, both old friends and new.

“Absolutely wonderful. Just wonderful,” Evansmore said of the number of familiar faces who showed up that she didn’t expect to see.

 Some of the guests came from neighboring states; some came with the assistance of the younger community. The oldest guest was 98 years old.

They came to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the museum which remembers the history of DuBois High School, the African-American high school in Mount Hope during segregation and the only integrated school known that brought in white students to an African-American school, according to Evansmore.

They also came to celebrate Maj. Gen. Charles Calvin Rogers Jr.

Rogers was a Medal of Honor recipient and a 1947 graduate of DuBois High School.

Rogers was remembered by those in attendance who knew him as a smart, well-liked member of the community.

He was the high school’s quarterback, the student council president, on the honor roll and a member of the drama club and after graduating from DuBois, Rogers went on to study at West Virginia State before entering the Army in 1952.

By 1968, Rogers was a lieutenant colonel of an artillery battalion in Vietnam.

On Nov. 1, 1968, the fire support base that Rogers was commanding came under a massive assault by North Vietnamese forces.

As a colonel, Rogers was supposed to be removed from the fighting, but the Mount Hope native threw himself into the fight, grabbed a rifle and rallied his men to overcome overwhelming odds.

According to Col. Jack Fincham (retired), who was under the command of Rogers three separate times after Vietnam, Rogers even ran to a disabled artillery piece and got the gun functioning again — a task that wasn’t on an officer’s job description.

Rick Hesse, a Fayetteville native and Army war reporter, said that when he was sent in to cover the story, Rogers had to be evacuated by stretcher, but only after the fighting had been won.

Hesse said Rogers, wounded multiple times, had refused to leave his men behind.

When interviewing Rogers’ men after the fighting had died down, Hesse said he was told that Rogers made Audie Murphy look like a choir boy that day. Murphy was a famous Medal of Honor recipient who had held off a large contingent of Germans by himself during World War II.

Hesse said that after the battle Rogers was sent to a hospital, where he was told that he might not walk again.

But walk he did, and after healing Rogers went back to Vietnam to finish his tour.

Hesse told the crowd that his one regret was not knowing that Rogers had grown up so close to him.

The war reporter did, however, know one of Rogers’ closest friends, T.W. Childs.

Hesse told the crowd that he had been informed by Childs that the weight of the Medal of Honor was heavy on Rogers’ shoulders.

Rogers believed that the medal belonged to all of the men on that battlefield that day, those who made it and those who didn’t.

Fincham echoed those sentiments and said he only discovered that Rogers was a Medal of Honor recipient during his second tour of duty with the general.

“I consider myself to be very fortunate to have worked for him for three years,” Fincham said.

The aging colonel fought back tears as he described the kind of person Rogers was and said that, in his decades in the Army, Rogers was his closest associate.

“He was one of the strongest Christian men I have ever met in my life,” Fincham said. “I say that with a tear in my eye because I thought so much of him.”

Ending his speech to the crowd, Fincham announced that he would be donating multiple photographs of Rogers to the museum.

After Vietnam, Rogers stayed in the Army until 1984, rising to the rank of major general.

After the Army, he became a Baptist minister and preached to the troops stationed in Germany.

In 1990, at the age of 61, Rogers passed away from prostate cancer and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Email: [email protected]; follow on Twitter @mattcombsRH

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