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Tech Sgt. Marvin O. Rose Bio, 431st Squadron

Marvin O. Rose was born on August 23, 1920 in White County, TN to William, a dairy farmer and Hattie, a homemaker. The family moved to Crossville, TN during the Depression and operated a dairy farm, Rose’s dairy. He attended Cumberland County High School and graduated in 1940 at the age of 19. He went to college at Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in Cookeville TN, now named Tennessee Technological University (TTU). He played basketball, lived in a boarding home and worked at the school dairy before and after school to pay for his education. When the attack on Pearl Harbor came, he finished his school year and enlisted with some friends after his sophomore year. He never returned to school, but did get an honorary degree from TTU at his 50th college class reunion.

Once enlisted, he was sent to Camp Forrest in Tullahoma, TN. Soon after he got there he awoke at 4am with an appendicitis attack. He didn’t want to miss his swearing in, so he waited until the 8 am event and then reported his symptoms. He had surgery that day and was held back 2 weeks for recovery. He went to St. Petersburg, FL for basic training for 6 weeks, living in pup tents, then went by train to Shepherd Field, TX for mechanical engineering school and was certified and graduated 3 months later. He graduated in the top 10 of his class and was chosen to specialize in a particular area. He was then sent to Chanute Field in IL, where he went through Armed Forces Technical Training School, majoring in Electrical Engineering and was certified 3 months later. From there, he went to Camp Kearns, UT for overseas training, designed to build endurance and strength, again living in pup tents for approximately 3 months. He was then sent to Camp Stoneman in CA, a point of exit (POE) to be shipped out to the Pacific theater a week later. By ship he sailed to Australia on a cruiseliner that was converted to a troop ship with 3 canvas bunks stacked atop one another for troops. The 19 day trip aboard ships without stabilizers made for a very difficult trip for the first 3 to 4 days, until the ship was able to get away from the groundswells. In Australia, he arrived at the replacement center and was assigned to 5th Army Air Force, 475th Fighter Group, He was sent to Fort Moresby, New Guinea, then was sent to Dobodura where he was assigned to the 431st Squadron. He stayed with this outfit for the remainder of the war.

A memorable event for him occurred when they landed at Biak. He and his men were told there were Japanese on the island. He and 5 other men got off the ramp to the island and Japanese snipers and cannons started firing. The landing crafts retreated and he and his men were stranded on the island for 5 days. They had 2 carbines among them, and only 2 men had rations. One day’s worth of water rations went quickly and days of 100 degree temperatures led him to order the men to dig for water. About 4 – 5 down they found brackish water and managed to hold on until they were rescued. On the 3rd day, they saw 3 ships and had some hope for rescue. The destroyers lined up and shelled the island for 30 minutes and then left. The next day, 40 – 45 US planes from nearby carriers flew overhead and strafed the island for 10 to 15 minutes. They then circled back and dropped 2 bombs each on the island and then they left. He and his men never saw or heard any sound from the Japanese there. Due to the salt water ingestion, he ended up with nephritis that was resolved with treatment once they returned to their unit. On the 5th day, landing craft returned to the island, dropped ramps and troops joined them and unloaded. The day after the landing craft arrived, he began to pass blood and went to the sick tent. He couldn’t eat or drink, had a temperature, nausea and was vomiting. A doctor came in with the rank of captain and told him he was being treated for dengue fever because they knew it wasn’t malaria. He had a very strong adverse reaction to the medication they were using and his condition worsened. At night the Japanese would send Betty Bombers to attack the troops. In camp, about 25 feet away, 90 mm antiaircraft guns were booming away and would glow red hot in the night until the barrels were switched. Sirens blew with each raid and medics would tip the cots over and patients were dumped on the ground. The captain had him evacuated to the medical hospital in Lae, New Guinea by plane where he could be treated. This was 1 day before his 24th birthday. When he recovered, he returned to Dobodura and was later sent to Nadzab. While at Nadzab, he and buddy went hunting for Japanese souvenirs one day and while walking in the jungle on a game trail, they saw what they thought was a funny looking branch about 9 – 10 feet overhead. Then the branch moved and the hair on his head and neck stood straight up and he swung around. As he did the head was already down near the ground. They fired many shots into it until it fell. It was a 22 foot python.

The 475th FG was part of General Douglas MacArthur’s fight in the Pacific and "return" to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation, and fought their way across the Pacific. Charles A. Lindbergh came to New Guinea and flew with the 475th FG secretly, in an attempt to help decrease fuel consumption, increase flight time and range, to prepare for longer bombing runs and flights. He actually shot down a Japanese plane while with the unit, although his involvement was kept out of the news.

Marvin Rose served as an electrician/aircraft mechanic on the P-38, the new fighter that the 475th FG exclusively flew. He was in charge of maintenance and overhauling the engines, and serviced each plane. The first plane to run on magnetos, which provided electrical power, one of his jobs was to prepare the P-38 engines that were shipped from the US by breaking them in according to schedule set by the manufacturer. The engine was started and then ran at so many rpms for a period of time, then the rpms were increased and run for a period of time, then increased and so on until the engines were broken in. Then each new engine was installed in a P-38 every 400 hours of flight time (~6 weeks) due to the heavy wear and tear they incurred during dogfights and air battles. The old engines were then reconditioned and placed in the planes in rotation. Once while he was following this process, a Lieutenant from TX came in to the area who didn’t know anything about planes. The officer asked why the engines were running so slowly. He explained the protocol to the officer. The officer said that the breaking in process wasn’t necessary and told him to get these engines in and flying now. The officer reached over to the throttle and jacked the rpms as high as they could go. He disagreed with the officer to no avail. The engine locked up 2 minutes later and flew to pieces. The officer left and didn’t return.

American forces including the 475th FG landed at Dulag, Leyte on October 20, 1944. One month later, they landed on San Jose, Mindoro on the western side of the island. Then they landed in Lingayen, Pangasinan in northern Luzon on January 5, 1945 and fought their way to Clark Air Force Base by February 12, 1945.

After the Japanese surrender, he went to Korea until his discharge, during which time he was promoted to Tech Sergeant. After the war, he bought Army surplus jeeps and with a Filipino manufacturer, Mr. Soriano, created the famous "jeepney" used for public transportation in the Philippines. He never thought to patent the idea. He also bought army surplus diesel engines and began the first electric power plant in the Pangasinan province. He married Lourdes Binuya Baltazar and they had their first child, daughter Aurora Jane in Lingayen. He later moved the family to San Pablo Laguna to work for a bus company, converting 1 bus from gas to diesel per week and perform maintenance on the bus fleet. From there, the company sent him to Batangas to work with the mining operation to transport ore out of the mines for shipping. He designed a railway transport system for the mines. A son, William Marvin Rose, Jr. was born. After a visit to the US in 1950, He was hired by Benguet Consolidated Mining Company to work in Zambales to mine Chromite as the power and mechanical superintendent there.

From there, he worked for Luneta Motors in Manila, then went into business for himself and operated his own fleet of taxis, became a Ford and Goodyear dealer, and building his own company of enterprises, Rose Industries Incorporated, still in operation in Manila today. He became a Peter Paul Candy distributor and opened Sweet Distributors, and had his own mechanic and body shop. During this time, he became a Mason and a Shriner. He and his wife Lourdes had another daughter, Rhonda Ann, after several miscarriages became a family of 5. He bought 7 hectares in Antipolo, Rizal and created a stock farm, selling eggs, poultry, pork, other livestock and dairy products. The farm was stocked with 20,000 chickens, 5 to 10,000 pigs, over a hundred head of cattle, and included horses, geese, turkeys and other miscellaneous animals as well. He built his own feed mill, and helped to develop coogon grass, which he processed as feed for the livestock. The farm has its own veterinarian, foreman and had a 2 story farmhouse with manager’s quarters on the first floor. Equipped with its own water tower, irrigation system, and concrete piggeries with drainage systems for use in fertilization, the farm was self-sustaining, with most workers living onsite.

After nearly 30 successful and profitable years in the Philippines, he and his family moved back to Tennessee in 1971, after anti-American sentiment and communist influence increased in the country and the self-proclaimed dictatorship of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, arriving just months before martial law was declared. Once settled in TN, he went into cattle farming on 3 farms he owned, and became a Pro-Lix distributor. He also later became a real estate broker and developer, building the Sherwood Farms development and building homes and selling lots until he was in his 80’s. He lost his wife Lourdes after 37 years to cancer in 1984. He remarried Laurine Thompson Cardona in 1995 and then lost her also to cancer in 1992. He then married Patricia J. Filley and remained married until his death from Lymphoma in 2014. In his 80’s he became a Master Gardener and was active in the American Legion, Shriners, Amvets, and other civic groups. The year before he died, he was finally awarded his final medals for his service in WWII. A humble man and a gentleman to the end, he was faithful in service to his church, his love of the land, animals and gardening, good food and good music and his family all his days.  

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