Ballad of Rodger Young

March 31st, 2005  
A Can of Man

Topic: Ballad of Rodger Young

An example of this song is mentioned in Starship Troopers (THE BOOK).

I got this off where they also have a downloadable short .wav format version of this song. But it's not the complete song.

Lyrics to "The Ballad of Rodger Young,"

No, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry.
No, they've got no use for praises loudly sung,
But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry
Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.

Shines the name--Rodger Young!
Fought and died for the men he marched among.
To the everlasting glory of the Infantry
Lives the story of Private Rodger Young.

Caught in ambush lay a company of riflemen--
Just grenades against machine guns in the gloom--
Caught in ambush till this one of twenty riflemen
Volunteered, volunteered to meet his doom.

Volunteered, Rodger Young!
Fought and died for the men he marched among.
In the everlasting annals of the Infantry
Glows the last deed of Private Rodger Young.

It was he who drew the fire of the enemy
That a company of men might live to fight;
And before the deadly fire of the enemy
Stood the man, stood the man we hail tonight.

On the island of New Georgia in the Solomons,
Stands a simple wooden cross alone to tell
That beneath the silent coral of the Solomons,
Sleeps a man, sleeps a man remembered well.

Sleeps a man, Rodger Young,
Fought and died for the men he marched among.
In the everlasting spirit of the Infantry
Breathes the spirit of Private Rodger Young.

No, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry,
No, they've got no use for praises loudly sung,
But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry
Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.

Shines the name--Rodger Young!
Fought and died for the men he marched among.
To the everlasting glory of the Infantry
Lives the story of Private Rodger Young.

Frank Loesser
April 10th, 2005  
Charge 7
That song was popular when I was a kid. Rodger Young was indeed a great American hero. Small in stature and slight of build, nearly blind and deaf, yet in him beat the heart of a giant. In all that really matters, Rodger Young was a very big man indeed. He died on Munda where my father nearly died as well. A hard fight not many remember now.

You can read his full story here:

It was late in June when Staff Sergeant Young went to see the 148th's Regimental Commander, drawing himself up to his full 5'2" height to render a salute, the chevrons of a Staff Sergeant prominent on his sleeves. Plans were underway for sending the 148th into combat on the nearby island of New Georgia to take and hold the vital Munda airstrip. The planning was intense, and the C.O. was at first rather preoccupied when the little guy with the thick glasses said: "Sir, I would like to request permission to be reduced to the rank of private."

It was an unusual statement from any NCO, and caught the commander rather unprepared. After a moment he looked at the young man before him and asked rather brusquely, "What is your reason for wanting to be busted, Sergeant?"

Sergeant Young steeled himself for what he knew he must do. He loved his stripes, his role as a leader and the fact that he had accomplished so much despite his size and his failing health. Choking back his emotions he blurted out, "Well, ears are going bad. I can't hear very well any more and I don't want any of my men killed in New Georgia because of me."

It had been a tough decision, but he knew it was the right decision. He had forced himself to come here now, to face his commander, and admit to his own frailty. It was perhaps, the most difficult thing he had ever done in his life. Now he was stunned and angered when the commander replied rather curtly and with some distaste, "What's the matter Sergeant? Don't you want to fight?"

The response cut into him deeply...the decision he had struggled with for so long and finally forced himself to make, was being mis-interpreted as COWARDICE! His commander thought he was trying to fabricate medical problems to get himself shipped home and away from the looming combat action on New Georgia.

"Sir," Rodger Young replied resolutely, "I don't want to leave the outfit. I want to go on -- but as a PRIVATE, so I'm only responsible for myself. I don't want to get any of my men hurt because of me." He paused for a moment, looking the senior officer full in the eyes and continued, "If I thought I'd be left behind because of THIS, then I'd rather drop the whole thing."

That afternoon the company physician checked out Rodger's physical condition, and reported to the captain that indeed the little soldier with the sergeant's stripes was approaching deafness. The captain even tendered the brave young man an apology with the doctor's recommendation that he be sent to a field hospital. Sergeant Young emphatically refused to be sent away, and returned to his unit to join his friends.
Sergeant Rigby did his best to rally his men, but it was heart-rending. "We (had) walked right into a trap," he remembered. In the opening moments, four young men from his home-town area had fallen. Unlike the regular Army, when a National Guard unit goes into war, a company or a platoon is often heavily made up of a group of young men who all come from the same city or region.

As the young NCO struggled to carry out his orders: "We had been ordered to burn our rations when we were told to withdraw," he noticed movement from another of his hometown soldiers. It was his boyhood friend, Private Rodger Young.

"Rodger was bound and determined to get that Japanese machine gun. In his position he had to know he was going to get killed. When I gave the order to retreat, I saw one of the boys beside him poke him with a stick and tell him to draw back but he had his sight on that pillbox and started after it."

Inching forward, his rifle cradled in his arms, the young private with the thick glasses had come to another of those tough choices in his life. As he slithered past the lieutenant, the officer reached out to try and stop him by grabbing his leg. Roger shook himself free and pushed on. The Japanese saw the flicker of movement and loosed a volley of fire in that direction, one round singing the lieutenant's hand and causing him to pull it back. Rodger Young continued crawling forward.

"Come back here!" The Lieutenant shouted. "It's suicide." The young private ignored the lieutenant's concern. If someone didn't knock out that enemy gun, the entire patrol would probably die. "Come back Private Young....THAT'S an ORDER!" The lieutenant shouted again.

For a moment the young private paused, turned to look back at his lieutenant....and smiled. "I'm sorry sir," he said. Then he smiled again. "You know sir, I don't hear very well." And then Rodger Young turned away from his lieutenant to continue crawling forward.

From their vantage point the enemy could see the movement of the grass as the American soldier crawled towards them, and unleashed the full fury of their machinegun. The other 15 men of Young's patrol returned fire, hoping to keep the enemy gunners pinned down as their friend and comrade continued his intrepid advance.

A sudden blow struck Private Young in the shoulder, rendering his left arm useless. The same round shattered the stock of his rifle, and he left it along with the trail of blood that marked his painful progress as he continued to crawl determinedly forward. Miraculously he was getting closer to his goal, when another stream of enemy fire raked the left side of his body from thigh to ankle. "Stay where you are," the lieutenant shouted above the din of battle. "We'll get you out somehow!" Rodger just shook his head.

The pain must have been unbearable, but it couldn't deter him. As always, Rodger Young had more HEART than body, and today his heart would carry him. Five yards from the enemy position, Rodger Young had dropped his shattered body into a depression in the ground deep enough to place him below the muzzle of the machinegun. Slowly, painfully, he used his good right hand to reach down and pull a grenade from his belt and raise it to his face. With his teeth he pulled the safety ring, released the lever and rose to his feet. Fifteen feet directly in front of the machinegun, there was no hope for the young man from Green Springs, Ohio. The full force of the automatic weapon caught him full in the face. But Rodger Young, even in death, had more heart than body. As his thick glasses imploded upon his young face, and moments before his 5'2" body slumped to the ground, he mustered the strength to throw the grenade. It was a throw that would have made any athlete proud, strong and true...destroying the enemy position and saving the lives of his comrades, including his boyhood friend, Sergeant Rigby.