Sgt. Billy Vern Rodgers, grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh E. Rodgers, Panama, Oklahoma, had been reported missing in action in the Korean conflict since December 2, 1950. He was officially proclaimed dead by the U.S. War Department, December 31, 1953.
Billy Vern Rodgers was born and reared in Panama, Oklahoma. He graduated from Panama High School in 1949 where he received many honors and awards in football and other activities.
September 1, 1949, he volunteered in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 32nd Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division. His Regiment made the landing at Inchon and drove the enemy from the City Seoul. This was the bloodiest battle of the entire war. During this battle, on September 26, 1950, Billy and two of his buddies were photographed, in action, as they shot it out with the North Koreans and Chinese, who had them greatly outnumbered. Billy and his squad held their position, protecting thirty-four wounded comrades, for five hours before help finally arrived. Billy was awarded the Silver Medal and Bronze Star for bravery under fire, and action above and beyond the call of duty. During this battle, Billy had the top shot out of his helmet. Fate smiled upon him that day, but on December 2, his Division was sent to the Chosin Reservoir to guard the Yalu River. By this time, the Chinese had entered the war in force and the Americans were greatly outnumbered. The last message received was from the Commanding General who had sent Billy and his Squad out on patrol. They never returned.
Billy was loved by many relatives and friends. They will long remember him as the little curly headed boy with the happy smile who loved the old and young alike. He died a gallant hero, giving his life for the country he loved, fighting for freedom in a faraway land.
In the letters he wrote home, he often referred to the verse in the Bible, John 3:16: “Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish will have everlasting life.” Billy will surely have “everlasting life” in the memory of his many friends and relatives.
Billy Vern Rodgers was born in Panama, Oklahoma, April 9, 1931. On September 26, 1950, the curly headed boy with the happy smile, grew into a man and became a hero. In a strange and hostile land, he faced down a cruel and relentless enemy. Then, on a cold and bitter day in December, he marched off to face the enemy, again against overwhelming odds. This time he did not return.
Billy will be loved and remembered well by all.
There will be a Visitation at Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home on Sunday, September 26, 2021 at 1:00 p.m.
A Funeral Service will be held at the Fort Myer Old Post Chapel on Monday, September 27, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. followed by interment at Arlington National Cemetery.
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