Army Cpl. Ronald Rosser earned his Medal of Honor 58 years ago on the steep hills of Korea in a place where the snow piled up several feet deep. By comparison, tonight's downpour that spoiled part of the Medal of Honor Society's parade motorcade, was a mere nuisance.
"It wasn't anything to have it (the temperature) 30 or 40 degrees below zero," Rosser recalled of his days living in a foxhole. "Even rats froze to death in my bunker."
Of the 3,447 medals given out since the Medal of Honor was created by Congress in 1861, about 133 went to men who fought in Korea. Only 13 of them survive, Rosser said.
Rosser, of Ohio, was decorated for his actions in a battle with the Chinese near the village of Ponggilli. He and his men were outnumbered nearly 10-to-1 when Rosser had to charge several enemy positions armed only with a carbine and hand grenade.
On three separate occasions, Rosser ran out of ammo and all three times he loaded up and got back in the fight. There were as many as 1,500 Chinese troops in the area.
"You might as well give everything you got," Rosser, now 81, said of his time in combat. "If you're still on your feet, you do what you can."
Meanwhile, a disappointing crowd of probably less than 250 waved to Rosser and the other recipients during their parade along The Battery, on a night when threatening weather kept many at home. Still, some who showed up said they would not have skipped the drive-by for anything.
"I hope to see history, and I hope they see us showing respect and appreciation of what they have done with their service to this great country," said Darryl White of West Ashley, an Air Force veteran who watched the procession with his wife Norma move past Murray Boulevard.
Later in the evening, the group, their families and their guests gathered at the Carolina Yacht Club where dignitaries, including the mayors of the three large local cities, welcomed them tp Charleston. "Thank you for the way you have always been faithful, even at the point of death," added Gov. Mark Sanford.
At the session, U.S. Mint Deputy Director Andy Brunhart unveiled designs for the 2011 Medal of Honor commemorative coins in gold and silver versions, to be available next year. The gold coin will feature the image of original medal image authorized by Congress in 1861 on one side, and the goddess Minerva on the other. It will sell for $35.
The silver coin features the current Army, Navy and Air Force medals on one side, with the image of a modern-day soldier rescuing a wounded commrade on the other. It will sell for $10.
The gathering continues today through Sunday, and will include visits to numerous area schools Friday.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.