Enoch: The casualties of war, part I

Published 6:00 am Saturday, December 16, 2023

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By Harry Enoch

Contributing Writer

The Clark County Veterans Council has announced plans to install a war memorial to honor those in the military who lost their lives in World War II and Korea.  They have received approval from the city commission to locate the memorial at the city park at the corner of Church Alley and East Broadway.  Research is underway to learn more about the Clark County residents who died in those conflicts.  This is the first in a series of articles about the casualties of war.

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Rev. George M. Byrd of Winchester lost three grandsons—Chester C. Rose, Charles B. Young and A. Thomas Rowe—in World War II and a son—Wendell F. Byrd—in the Korean War.  All but Rowe were Clark County natives.

Chester C. Rose

Chester Clay Rose, 25, the son of Joseph and Golden Rose, was among the first victims of World War II.  He died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Chester had attended Winchester Academy on Winn Avenue and then graduated from Clark County High School at age 14, reportedly the youngest on record.  He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and was sent to their Mine Warfare School in Newport News, Virginia.  He served in the navy for seven years and was assigned as a boatswain’s mate first class on the USS Arizona.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  During the attack, the USS Arizona was struck by eight armor-piercing bombs.  One shell penetrated the Arizona deck causing a large explosion that destroyed the forward half of the ship.  More than 1,100 sailors and Marines were lost along with the ship.

An account of Rose’s actions that day was recorded in the book, The USS Arizona, by Joy W. Jasper et. al.  Rose and seaman John Anderson somehow managed to survive the initial blast and swam to Ford Island.  There they secured a lifeboat and rowed back to the ship in hopes of saving other men.  They could not get close to the Arizona because of the fire burning on oil-covered water.  However, the pair did manage to pull aboard a number of their injured comrades who were still alive.  They then headed back with their precious cargo toward Ford Island.  They never made it.  Their boat was hit by a shell and Anderson was the only survivor.

Chester’s remains were not recovered.  He is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.