A Personal Tribute: The U.S. Army Career of LTG Donald E. “Rosie” Rosenblum on the Occasion of His Memorial Service at HAAF (9-16-2022)

Memorial Service (9-16-22) at Hunter Army Airfield (Truscott Terminal) to Salute the Passing of LTG “Rosie” Rosenblum

At son David’s request, and his assistance, it’s my honor to provide brief highlights of the exceptional Army career of Lieutenant-General Donald E. “Rosie” Rosenblum

As most if you know, Rosie attended The Citadel in Charleston, where he was very active in student organizations and athletics, completing his degree in 1951, as a Distinguished Military Graduate, with commissioning as a Second-Lieutenant in the United States Army.

With the Korean War then underway, in no time, Rosie found himself, there, leading a rifle platoon in combat.  And from that time, came at least three stories he enjoyed telling, many times over.

On very likely, his first night out, keeping watch for the enemy, along with his platoon, Lieutenant Rosenblum was positioned along a short embankment. He soon became curious about a strange sound, going on around him and overhead. He turned to his trusted Senior NCO, and asked if he knew what that sound was. “Yes, sir, replied the veteran Sergeant: “That sound is enemy fire. They’re shooting at us, sir. Suggest you duck down.” Sage advice, and combat reality lesson 1-0-1.

That NCO’s name was First-Sergeant Joe Gomez, whom Rosie grew to really like, admire, and respect.  So much so, that he faithfully kept in touch with him over the years. As his Army career progressed, each time Rosie received a higher promotion, he would drop a note to that favorite Sergeant, letting him know.  And each time, said Rosie, Joe Gomez would respond with congratulations and the following: “Frankly, sir, I never thought you’d make it past Captain!”  Rosie always enjoyed that sarcasm from his dear friend, and would chuckle each time he told the story.

The final reference to his time in combat in Korea had to do with the weather.  He mentioned, many times, that his time out in the Korean winter was the coldest he’d ever been.  And whenever Savannah’s winter-time temperatures would approach the 30’s, it inevitably brought back memories of the extreme freezing cold of Korea, where he and his soldiers had apparently not been issued adequate winter clothing.  Whenever he spoke of that extreme cold, colorful language followed.

Stateside assignments followed Korea, including two-years with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.  After time in Germany, eventually came, two combat tours in Vietnam, including command of an airborne infantry battalion. During his time with, or leading, various airborne units, he ended with about 60 career “jumps.”

Early in 1975, by-then-Brigadier-General Rosenblum, was assigned, from his position at the Pentagon, to go to Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield to re-activate that post, prior to the planned arrival there of the 24th Infantry Division.  As he often told us, Fort Stewart, had only two or three habitable buildings, due to neglect from lengthy inactivation. Rosie rallied the limited on-post staff, and contractors, to repair, build-up, and make the installation suitable for an eventual full division.

With the project completed, well-enough to begin taking on the sequential arrival of troops, Rosie then traveled back to the Pentagon, with what he hoped would be a simple request.  He asked his boss if he could become the Deputy Commanding General of Fort Stewart/Hunter, that is, the second in command, since it was only the two-stars who got divisions and, at that point, Rosie had one. To Rosie’s immediate surprise and disappointment, his boss leaned across the desk and said: NO!

In typical Rosie, stand-your-ground fashion, he asked why he was being turned down.  The reason, said his boss, was because he was about to assign Rosie, not as the deputy, but as Fort Stewart and the 24th Infantry Division’s overall Commanding General!  The Number One slot!  Rosie had no issue with that. His second star would follow.  He had leap-frogged over existing Major-Generals to achieve that command, a clear indication of his record of achievement and the high esteem with which he was viewed by Army superiors.

Major-General Rosenblum commanded Fort Stewart-Hunter, and the 24th for two-years.  Following another command, in 1980, he became the Deputy Commander of both the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg.  A year later, he was promoted to Lieutenant-General, and assigned to command the First United States Army, with overall training and readiness responsibility for 3-hundred-thousand Army Reserve and National Guard forces east of the Mississippi, along with several thousand regular Army troops.

In between Rosie’s operational tours, there were, of course, a number of staff assignments.  For the sake of time, I’ve limited these highlights to the operational side. I do want to mention, however, that, between his two Vietnam deployments, he was chosen to attend the Army’s War College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a highly selective one-year posting, and a clear indication that the Army intended considerably more growth and responsibility for Rosie, which, as previously indicated, definitely followed.

Then, in 1984, after 33-years of exceptional combat and peacetime service, Lieutenant-General Donald E. Rosenblum chose to retire from the United States Army.

During his time commanding Fort Stewart & Hunter, Rosie had become very good friends with the legendary, influential, and, as it turns out, persuasive, Savannah Mayor, John Rousakis.  When the Mayor caught wind of the General’s pending-retirement, he contacted Rosie and didn’t mince words in his message, which was to: “Get your, (let’s say, ‘rear end,’) back here to Savannah!”

Still accustomed to taking orders, apparently even from one particular civilian Mayor, Rosie did, in fact, make the decision to come back to Savannah.  He opened an office here, as most of you know, and ran his own very successful military-industrial consulting firm, for well over 20-years.  In addition, he became and remained, very active in civic affairs within the Savannah community, along with assisting his alma matter, The Citadel, in every way that he could.

Today, we honor, recognize, and most of all, remember a great American, one who became, as well, a distinguished military warrior and leader.  An exceptional soldier, father, grandfather, friend, and patriot, who through grit, skill, character, determination, and professional achievement, rose to the very highest levels of military rank and command. He served our exceptional nation with duty and distinction, both at home and away, with unfailing commitment to our great Army, and to the cause of freedom.

In Rosie, we’ve lost a man of remarkable statue, a man of incredible accomplishment, and for so many of us here, a dear loyal friend.  We will miss you deeply, Rosie.

And now, after your 33-years of dedicated Army service, permission, Rosie, to remain ‘at ease’ for all eternity, within the blessings, warmth, and peace of your heavenly home.  Justly due, following a professional life, well done, dear faithful and distinguished American soldier.

(Written & delivered by William L. “Bill” Cathcart)