Extol Magazine

OCT-NOV 2016

Extol Magazine Celebrating Southern Indiana is a local publication that covers stories about businesses people places or events throughout the cities of New Albany Jeffersonville Clarksville Sellersburg and Louisville KY

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and California with the 424 Medical Collecting Company, his assigned unit responsible for supporting the 1st, 6th, 25th, 32nd and 37th Calvary Divisions by providing "treatment and evacuation of wounded and sick combat troops." As a member of the 424, Roggenkamp along with his "unusual medical unit" were responsible for tending to the front lines. Personally, he acted as the unit's motor pool vehicle mechanic, responsible for 19 vehicles including 12 ambulances – several for company supplies and several for personal transportation and supplies. He has a very high mechanical I.Q., leading him to be the top field mechanic in his unit. "(e vehicles) went through tough terrain, sometimes salt water, sometimes creeks, sometimes rough gravel," he said. "But you gotta keep running." e conditions of the war were dire, Roggenkamp said, describing the lifestyle e conditions of the war were dire, Roggenkamp said, describing the lifestyle as living "day-to-day awaiting orders," moving from foxhole to foxhole eating and sleeping on the fly. "You didn't feel much of anything," he said. "(It was a) lost feeling. … We were bombed so often that we (had a betting) pool every day. If you picked the time closest to the first bomb dropped you won!" he wrote in his short, self-published memoir, Duke's WWII Stories. "What a way wrote in his short, self-published memoir, Duke's WWII Stories. "What a way to have fun! Something only a G.I. would understand!" When not surrounded by enemy bombs – one landing within 25 feet away that permanently damaged his hearing – Roggenkamp was dodging gunfire. He described one retrieval mission in particular: "My commander said: 'My jeep's clutch is stuck. I need you to get it," Roggenkamp recalled. "I said, 'Yes sir, but I need a driver.' " He tells the story triumphantly, describing his close call and quick thinking. "The clutch was stuck so (we) had to attach a cable to the front (to get) momentum going," he said. "I got on the hood and heard budd-da-da budd- da-da budd-da-da budd-da-da. Four shots. ey were firing at me." Friendly infantry finally caught up with him, throwing a grenade that ended the enemy gunfire. Despite everything, he accomplished his mission, making it back to the rendezvous with his driver. "It was a horrible and emotional time for the soldiers," Vance said, reflecting on "It was a horrible and emotional time for the soldiers," Vance said, reflecting on her father's time overseas. After retelling his anecdotes of consistent onslaughts of enemy bombs and gunfire throughout the Philippines, harsh swamp-like conditions in New Guinea and a near-invasion of Japan on the cusp of their surrender, Roggenkamp solemnly nodded in agreement. War is a harrowing, nasty beast that consumes all too many good soldiers War is a harrowing, nasty beast that consumes all too many good soldiers in its clutches. Yet, as Roggenkamp can attest, there's also hope and longevity in its clutches. Yet, as Roggenkamp can attest, there's also hope and longevity despite it. For one year, 10 months and 6 days he trained under Continental Service, which helped to prepare him for a year, 7 months and 24 days of Foreign Service, which helped to prepare him for a year, 7 months and 24 days of Foreign Service. ese 3 and a half years define him as a veteran, but they don't come anywhere close to defining the Nascar-loving, kindhearted, family-oriented anywhere close to defining the Nascar-loving, kindhearted, family-oriented man that he's been for a far greater portion of his life; 95 years is a long time to be a hero. RETURNING HOME Experiencing the horrors of war take a toll, but Roggenkamp doesn't let his STILL STANDING time of service – he was drafted June 6, 1942 and honorably discharged Dec. 5, 1945 – stop him from living a fulfilling life and making a positive impact on those around him. Once his honorable discharge went into effect, it wasn't long before Roghenkamp's departure from Japan. He returned home to Milltown, where he ran a Chevrolet dealership for 57 years and raised a family alongside his wife. Rebecca (Roggenkamp) Vance is the middle of three children, born in 1949; the oldest, Edward Karl Roggenkamp III, was born in 1944 while Roggenkamp was still overseas; he was 18 months when they first met. e youngest, Kelley, was born in 1959. Edward "Duke" Roggenkamp was awarded many decorations and citations, including American theater ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific theater ribbon, W/2 bronze stars, Philippine Liberation ribbon, W/1 bronze star, Good conduct medal, Meritorious unit award and Bronze Arrowhead Victory medal World War II; every ribbon receiving a corresponding medal. ese decorate his hat proudly, every ribbon receiving a corresponding medal. ese decorate his hat proudly, every ribbon receiving a corresponding medal. ese decorate his hat proudly, standing as a physical symbol of triumphant hardship his stories hold. Roggenkamp was happily married to his wife, Kathleen, for 68 years before her passing on September 11, 2011. Both Roggenkamp and Vance speak very highly of their wife and mother, respectively, who they remember as the "unofficial mayor of Milltown." In his time after service Roggenkamp stayed very involved in his family and the community. In fact, he's been a due paying member of the American Legion the community. In fact, he's been a due paying member of the American Legion Milltown Charter for 72 years, making him the oldest living due paying member. Milltown Charter for 72 years, making him the oldest living due paying member. Milltown Charter for 72 years, making him the oldest living due paying member. Milltown Charter for 72 years, making him the oldest living due paying member. "He's very well-known," Vance said. "All the women of Milltown want to hug him. … He never let his feelings he brought home with him (affect) anyone else. He's always been a kind caring person." e respect and admiration for her father – and mother – is even more evident today. "Him and mom didn't just retire and sit in chairs," Vance said. "And he still uses a cell phone. Pretty impressive for 95." "And he still uses a cell phone. Pretty impressive for 95." AH, 95. Less than five years from a century of living, Roggenkamp is in high spirits, his top priorities to simply stay "comfortable and careful" and keep up with Nascar, which he loves so much, for his 80th birthday, the family pitched in for a driving session at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. "I was in my driving for a driving session at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. "I was in my driving suit and my helmet," he said. "By the tenth rep I was up to 150 miles per hour." Vance remembers the day very fondly. "ey let the whole family (drive around) on the track," she said. "It was so much fun." Today, Roggenkamp remains strongly invested in the state of the USA, holding true to the value of freedom. "(ere are) too many people who don't know how to control freedom or what to do with it," he said. "I listen to both sides of politicians and this, that and the other. … We need to elect people who you know will keep the country's freedom alive." Yes, Roggenkamp plans to vote in the November election, but it's not the party or person Roggenkamp particularly cares about. His utmost concern is party or person Roggenkamp particularly cares about. His utmost concern is that the nation remains grounded in freedom. "People (should be) living the lives they want to live." 48 EXTOL • OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016 "PEOPLE (SHOULD BE ABLE TO KEEP) LIVING THE LIVES THEY WANT TO LIVE." –WORLD WAR II VETERAN EDWARD "DUKE" ROGGENKAMP, JR.,

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