Rosen, 88, saw action as a U.S. Army infantryman in the European theater during World War II. Scott, 29, worked tours of duty as a platoon commander under the U.S. Marine Corps banner during the Afghanistan War.
One is a Buckhead retiree and doting grandfather; the other a Georgia Tech student and Midtown resident making the transition back into civilian life. They are two soldiers separated by several generations yet united by the timeless bond shared by those who served.
o Sy Rosen
“I was overseas for about a year and a half, including combat time and occupation.
“I was drafted in 1944 and was sent overseas in early ’45. I was just a 17-year-old kid from New York City who’d never held a gun in his life. … I joined the Third Division.
“I remember attacking a Siegfried [German defensive] line. It was approximately 100 yards deep, but it took us three-plus days of fighting to get across that 100 yards — with its dragon’s teeth [concrete tank traps] and pillboxes [bunkers].
“In the infantry, your war is 10 yards on either side of you, maybe 100 yards in front of you. … That’s where you lived. You never see the big picture when you’re a rifleman — you just keep going forward with a very narrow view of the world around you and try to survive.
“[After the Siegfried line] we went across the Rhine River … we were really hit pretty hard by the Germans’ shelling and knocking some of our posts out. The Germans had great artillery; their mortars were very effective …
“We suffered the highest rate of casualties of any group during World War II – 36,000. [War hero-turned movie star] Audie Murphy was part of our division.
“[Veterans Day] reminds me of the guys who didn’t make it … guys I served with during the war who were killed in action or wounded and I never knew what happened to them.
“Me, I was a pretty lucky kid. Dumb luck, that’s all it is. The guy standing right next to you could be killed and you escape with hardly a scratch on you. There’s nothing he did or you did. … It just happened.
“You have to wonder sometimes.”
o Charles Scott
“I’m originally from Indiana.
“About two weeks after [undergraduate college] graduation in 2007, I ended up commissioning as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
“I then selected orders to be stationed in Hawaii with Second Battalion Third Marines. During that time, I conducted two deployments to Afghanistan — first one being as a platoon commander for a standard infantry platoon, working closely with the Afghan government, helping them really build their policies and procedures as well as providing security to the local community.
“I came back from that deployment and ended up joining an Afghan national army advisory team. Really, there was a heavy reliance by the Afghan national army on Coalition force supplies, which was delaying the NATO draw down of forces. So, once we could get the Afghan national army independently operating — sustainable operations — we could pull the Coalition forces out and the Afghans could continue providing security for the local community. …
“So, what does Veterans Day mean to me?
“During the different phases of my life, it’s meant a little different each time.
“As a young kid, I looked up to my uncle, Courtney Scott, and my grandfather, Robert Chapel. Both served in the military. When I thought of Veterans Day, I immediately turned to them and started thinking, ‘Man, they must have done some crazy things.’ So it was the historical sense of what the military means.
“As I started going into the training and [later] actually joined the military, Veterans Day actually took more of a backseat. … Now, transitioning out of the military, I am looking at Veterans Day through two different lenses — one being appreciation for the guys still on active duty who are actually standing guard in that watch-post from sundown to sunrise … and for the veterans who are transitioning out of the military and the struggles that they’re going to be going through getting back to [life in] the private sector.”