“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
Those words are from someone who should know, someone who served their country in Vietnam and, in process, lost friends who were willing to do the same.’
“My Hero is Ernie Porky”Rosser who was killed in action in Vietnam on 12-11-66. RIP”MARINE!” Mike Shoemaker said in a post on Facebook recently.
After finding the post, we asked Shoemaker if her would be interested in writing something about his hero and friend. He offered a letter he wrote to Rosser as part of therapy for PTSD.
Shoemaker is a 1965 graduate of Mason County High School and joined the Army soon after graduation. He was stationed in Germany for two years before being sent to Vietnam in October 1967 for a year. Here is his tribute to Rosser, who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1966.
Just found out in a book of all deaths from the Vietnam War, that you died on 12.11.66.
It said you died from small arms fire and that you were a Marine.
Ernie, I had forgotten that Dennis Redmond told me about your death when I came back to Maysville, Ky., after my tour in Nam. I was with the 1st Calvary in Nam, but I guess you know that.
I’m writing to you to let you know I always liked you a lot! We both played on Mason County’s basketball team together from 1961-1965, Remember after practice we would walk up to the little store and get a Pepsi or some candy and wait from a ride home together. A guy named “Billy Hitt” would pick us up a lot in his new red Chevy. I think it was! He would drop you off first and I remember seeing you climb that fence and start walking to where you lived. I never knew how far you had to walk. I still remember it being almost dark and it would be really cold in Kentucky at that time of year.
Ernie, you were only 19 years old when you died in Vietnam. I didn’t know you real well but I know that your young life was rough. I want to think that everything is great for you and all 58,000 of the other Vietnam heroes are doing fine up there together. I hope you met my good buddy “Doc” Billy Wayne Brigeman. He is another of us Kentucky boys.
Ernie, I’m in this PTSD group here at the VA hospital in Bay Pines, Florida. Our group is going to plant a tree next Thursday and I want to put this letter I’m writing you, along with the letter I wrote to my friend “Doc” last June in the ammo box we are burying with the tree. I hope you won’t mind.
I’m so proud of you and so glad to have known you.
Love You Brother,