By James Rinehart
RJH History Teacher and member of the
Rolla Sesquicentennial Planning Committee
Rolla Sesquicentennial Ceremony
Saturday, June 4, 2011
On December 7, 1941 Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. When Bosco Eudaly heard the news he learned that one of this childhood friends perished aboard the U.S.S. Arizona. Like scores of other Americans, Mr. Eudaly volunteered for service in the United States Navy and served aboard the U.S.S. Cassiopeia throughout World War III. When the war erupted, Howard Tom Chrisco was stationed in the Philippines. When U.S. forces abandoned the islands and moved to Australia, Mr. Chrisco was among those left behind. He was taken prisoner, survived the Bataan Death March, eventually escaped, was rescued, and three years later returned home. Near the end of the war, the U.S.S. Indianapolis set sail for Tinian, secretly carrying parts of the atomic bomb. On her return trip, the Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine. She sank in twelve minutes. Due to the secrecy surrounding the mission, no one knew she was missing. Survivors, including a young man named Gerald Poor, survived for 5 days in the Pacific Ocean. They fought hunger, thirst, hysteria, and sharks before eventual rescue. Mr. Poor is currently the only living Indianapolis survivor form the state of Missouri. These are all Rolla men.
When the Korean War erupted, a young Marine named Forest O’Neil found himself deep in North Korea near the Chosin Reservoir. When the area was overrun by the Chinese, the Marines found themselves surrounded. They fought their way to the sea to be rescued by the Navy. The Marines left no one behind. Every Marine, living or dead, made it out of North Korea. The survivors are known as the “Chosin Few”. Forest O’Neil is one of them. After the war he taught and coached for over 30 years in the Rolla Public School System. Another Rolla teacher, Coach Dennis Roberts, received the Silver Star for heroism in Vietnam. He continues to coach in our school system even after retiring as a teacher.In May of 2009, the body of Army Specialist Jacob Barton was returned to Rolla from Baghdad, Iraq for burial. The ceremony served as a grim reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that can be given for one’s country, and within the last month (May 2011), the death of Specialist Bradley Melton in Afghanistan serves as a reminder of the current sacrifices asked of our Armed Forces and of our military families.
These stores have been few. The sacrifices of the citizens of our State, County, and City have been many. Let us now recognize the sacrifice given by both the living and the dead.