ROSCO E. BREWER
Sergeant First Class | Infantry
The May Massacre was a devastating day for the 2d Infantry Division. At the tail end of the unpredictable and displacing combat of the first year of war it was one of the last charges before digging into trenches and bunkers. While the events of May 18 claimed many casualties, among the losses emerged small acts of gallantry by individuals and units who held their ground with stubborness and zeal.
Most soldiers who enlisted in the 1930s were noncomissioned officers after a decade or so, but Rosco still had only one stripe of Private First Class. Even with two years of overseas service in World War II he was lacking in rank, possibly due to misbehavior, lack of interest in career progression, or just having been passed over for no obvious reason. There were certainly plenty of men who would rather follow orders and not worry about the responsibilities that rank brought with it.
Regardless of his pay grade, Brewer was no less the soldier than any other. Ordered with his recoilless rifle team to break a roadblock on the morning of May 18, his platoon found themselves under attack. Each element of the 2d Division had a narrow view of the battle that day, and isolated pockets of men fought their way out of the fray with no knowledge of what a platoon or company to their left or right might be doing as Chinese swarmed around and between positions creating chaos.
In the distance a machine gun crew was attempting to take a position and assemble their weapon. Rosco quickly gathered his recoilless rifle and ammunition and moved to an open area with a clear view of the enemy emplacement. Though he was in clear view, he began firing rounds into the would be MG nest, quickly deterring or killing the gunners. He continued firing until he was sure his platoon had moved to a new area and hauled out of the area as soon as he could.