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ROECKER, Frederick C. Jr. (1919-1996)
Frederick C. Roecker, Jr. was born in Walla Walla, Washington on 11 July 1919. His family had a long tradition of military service. His grandfather was the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 4th U. S. Cavalry. His father was a Newspaper Editor for a regional newspaper and was the commander of the local National Guard unit stationed in Walla Walla.
Fred Roecker enlisted in the Washington National Guard on 27 Sep 1934 and served until 27 Jun 1938 in F Company, 161st Infantry Regiment and Company B, 116th Quartermaster Regiment as a private, corporal, and sergeant. During this period he completed high school in Walla Walla and attended the Drew Preparatory School in San Francisco, California. In July 1938, he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
On May 29, 1942, Fred graduated 38th out of 373 West Point Graduates (Class of 1942) and was Commission a Second lieutenant, Infantry. As a young career Army Officer, Fred joined the 134th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division in July 1942. While serving with the 134th Infantry Regiment during World War II, Fred held these assignments:
Duty Assignment - 134 Infantry Regiment From To
Assistant S-3, 134th Infantry Regiment Jul 1942 Feb 1943
Commanding Officer, Company G Feb 1943 Apr 1943
Commanding Officer, Cannon Company Aug 1943 Nov 1943
Battalion S-3, 2nd BN, 134 Inf Regiment Nov 1943 Aug 1944
Commanding Officer, 2nd BN Aug 1944 Apr 1945
Commanding Officer, 3rd BN Apr 1945 Nov 1945
As the commander of the 2nd Battalion during most of the combat operations in France and Germany, Fred Roecker was always very proud of the Battalion's accomplishments - the men truly distinguished themselves. One action that he shared in detail with his family involved the capture of Flavigny Bridge. On 11 September 1944, 2nd Battalion spotted the bridge still intact across the Moselle River at Flavigny, France. They were ordered to capture the bridge and hold it until reinforcements arrived. The 2nd Battalion attacked, took the bridge and established a bridgehead with 3 companies on the far-side. The Germans quickly realized the significance of the loss of the bridge and counterattacked with "everything they had", destroying a section of the bridge, and eventually forcing the 2nd Battalion to withdraw. In the fog of battle, promised reinforcements did not reach Flavigny in time to exploit the 2nd Battalion's initial success. But, the "fight" by the 2nd Battalion forced the Germans to commit their reserves and other crossings of the Moselle River by the 35th Infantry Division met relatively little resistance. Major Roecker was severely wounded during the course of that battle, but, remained in command until his Executive Officer, Major McDannel could be fully briefed.
Fred Roecker rose from the rank of Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel while serving with the 134th Infantry Regiment. Fred was one of 10 West Point Graduates from Classes 1920 to 1945 to command a battalion during the War. He was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action between 8 August and 23 August for actions near Mortain and near Les Goths, France. He was also award two Bronze Stars, and four Purple Heart Medals for wounds received in battle from July 1944 to November 1944.
Colonel Roecker returned to the United States late in 1945 and continued to serve a long and distinguished military career. He went on to command three more infantry battalions. From 1946 to 1949 he was stationed in Japan as part of the American occupation and served as the G-3 of the 25th Infantry Division. Fred was an instructor at West Point from 1950 to 1953. In September 1953 he was assigned as the Executive Officer of the 27th Infantry Regiment in Korea and later served as an advisor the Korean Army.
Upon completion of his tour in Korea, Colonel Roecker served in successive positions as Operations Officer and Executive Officer of the Oregon Military District, Vancouver Barrack, Washington, and in 1956 was assigned as Assistant Chief, Infantry Branch, Officer Assignment Division, TAGO, Washington, D.C.
Following graduation from the National War College in 1960, Fred was assigned to Korea where he commanded the 1st Battle Group, 31st Infantry, 7th Infantry Division. In July 1961, he returned to the Pentagon and was assigned to the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1962, Fred became the Executive Officer, Office of Personnel Operations, Department of the Army.
In 1966, Fred was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and commenced his third tour in Korea as the Assistant Division Commander, 7th Infantry Division. In July 1967, General Roecker returned to the United States as the Deputy Commanding General, US Army Training Center, Fort Ord, California. In December, 1967, General Roecker assumed command of the US Army Combat Development Command Experimental Command at Fort Ord, California. Fred retired from the Army in July 1969.
Following his retirement from the Army, Fred taught mathematics in public schools in Ventura, California until 1980. Fred passed away in Ventura in July 1996 at the age of 76, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Fred's love for his country and the U. S. Army was passed on to his posterity. His son served in various components of the U. S. Army for 28 years before mandatory retirement. One of Fred's grandsons is currently on serving in the Army.
CITATION FOR THE SILVER STAR
To MAJOR (then Capt) FREDERICK C. ROECKER, JR., 024681, Infantry, United States Army, for gallantry in action in the Mortain and Montargis sectors, France, during the period 8 to 23 August 1944. Major Roecker commanded the 2nd Battalion, 134th Infantry, during this period. On 8 August he was given the mission of securing a cross-road south of Mortain. When his leading company was pinned down by machine gun and mortar fire, he proceeded to the company command post, and, although wounded, declined medical attention and personally directed movement of a platoon in an enveloping movement, neutralizing enemy fire and paving the way for the battalion advance to its objective. He received a second and more painful wound, but remained with his command until he assured himself that his executive officer had the situation in hand. After a short period of hospitalization, he returned to duty although his wounds still hampered his movements. On 23 August when he was given the mission of capturing Les Goths, he accompanied leading elements of the battalion and, when heavy enemy machine gun fire was encountered, over-ran the machine gun emplacements and continued forward movement without disorganization, by the exercise of superior and dynamic leadership. Approaching the town of Les Goths, he directed organization of a task force which advanced on tanks well in advance of the battalion column, clearing the way for the battalion proper and enabling them to secure the objective without loss. The superior leadership ability of this officer, his intrepid courage and zealous devotion to duty, reflects credit upon his character as an officer and are in accord with the high traditions of the Army. Entered United States Military Academy from Washington.
GO No. 31
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