A soldier’s story, Part 2: Jack and Wayne and back home

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part article by local military veteran Paul Butler, who writes periodic stories on Clinton County veterans for the News Journal.

Hunter-killer teams

The reason for the high-fatality rate for Scouts was directly related to the fact they flew one of the most dangerous helicopter assignments in the Army — in a tiny scout helicopter known as the “Loach”, officially designated the OH-6 Cayuse. These things were made of thin plexiglass and metal and were expected to fly low over the jungles and grass, looking for enemy forces hiding in the foliage.

The Loach broke records for speed, endurance and rate of climb with its weight lighter than a Volkswagen and powered by a 285-HP engine, but because of the mission for which they were intended, they suffered significant losses.

They were usually joined by Cobra gunships in hunter-killer teams where the Loach hunted and the Cobra killed. Normally, hunter meant flying literally at tree-top level and drawing ground fire, calling the killer Cobra, which used their weaponry to eliminate the enemy.

Many of the Loaches that were lost, were brought down by small arms fire.

Rose described the predominant mission he and his pilot, Wayne Miller, flew: “We would go out as part of a three-team operation — White, Red and Green teams. The White Team, Loach, would fly treetop; the Red Team, Cobra, flew at 1,500 to 2,000 feet; and the Green Team, Huey, 5,000-plus feet.

“White drew fire, Red went in for the kill and Green covered them from air strikes and communicated the location to ground troops.”

The Loach team was not defenseless; they could carry a variety of weapons — 7.62mm mini-guns, 70mm rockets and anti-tank missiles. Yet the dangers the Scouts faced on every mission was ominous.

Two Scouts flying side-by-side, going into harm’s way every time they took off, created a special bond between the men.

In the Case of Jack Rose and Tony Bowers, they became like brothers. Not just brothers-in-arms but like brothers.

When Wayne rotated back to the States, Jack was assigned a new pilot, Warrant Officer Herbert William Scott III, for the time he had left in country.

Rose had one more mission scheduled before he was to go back to the “World” (a term used to describe the United States).

But before he could board his Loach, he was told that the new guy was taking his place.

Jack had reservations, since John Thomas O’Donnell, nicknamed by his fellow Scouts as “The Philly Punk”, had only been in country for two months and was very inexperienced. But orders are orders and he was anxious to go.

Then word came back to the camp — Jack’s worst fears had been confirmed. The little Loach had been shot down and exploded upon impact, killing both men.

Going home

Jack could hardly believe he was really going home.

When Jack left Wilmington, his wife was pregnant, and now he had a 6-month old son, John Milton Rose III, whom he had only seen black-and-white photos.

The trip back was much more pleasant, since it was by plane in lieu of a boat. After more than a 24-hour flight he arrived in Fort Lewis, Washington, where he was discharged. He took a flight to Chicago, where he could not get a flight out until the next day, so he slept on a bench in the terminal.

Morning found him on a flight to Cincinnati. Upon arrival he found the only ride he could, a taxi cab. As the cab headed to Wilmington, Jack had his eyes on the meter, since he had only so much money with him.

The meter hit his limit, so he stopped the cab, paid the driver and stuck out his thumb. An older couple picked him up and drove him to his house.

A working man

After few days recovering from his travels, spending time with his wife, and getting to know his son, and it was time to find a job. Jack scoured the want ads daily, talked to everyone he knew, and finally found the only job in Wilmington — janitor at the local bowling alley. With no apparent career path in his present position, he continued to look for work.

He found a job at a local factory, Randal Company, driving a forklift. Then, an ad that seemed to offer a real opportunity appeared in the paper. The City Water Department had an opening that paid $2 an hour to start and a raise to $2.10 after 30 days.

Jack started out working on a crew and later filled in as a meter reader when needed. He stuck with it, doing whatever was needed, and after many years was promoted to Water Department Manager in 1976. Jack retired, after 30 years, in 1998.

During that 30 years, a lot happened in the life of John M. Rose II. He became the father of two beautiful daughters, Vanessa and Sarah. He got divorced and after a few years of the single life, he met, fell in love with and married Valerie Jones in 1985. She had two children, Chrystal and Shawn, whom Jack immediately accepted as if his own.

The death and destruction Rose and Miller saw — and for that which they were responsible — had a lifelong effect on them. They were both diagnosed later with PTSD.

He stayed in touch with Tony and Wayne, talking on the phone at least once a month until Wayne passed away, and Tony’s death when he succumbed to cancer in April 2022. But not before Wayne immortalized all his thoughts, impressions and the demons that haunted him in a memoir he titled “Rosie and Me.”

This personal compilation of stories was given to his daughter, A.J., with whom Jack stays in touch. She has only shared bits and pieces of it with him, even though his name appears throughout the book.

Active with veterans

After retirement, Jack worked as a consultant and inspector assisting other water departments, and he became even more involved with the American Legion and VFW, serving at different times as Commander of each. He also took on various positions serving veterans, including serving on the Clinton County Veterans Service Commission.

Today, Jack is still active in both veterans organizations and with the Post 49 Legion Riders.

Jack and Valerie love taking short trips visiting family and friends and exploring new eateries. Jack still likes spending a few hours a week in his garage working on cars and motorcycles as well as refinishing furniture.

The writer, Paul Butler, is a Wilmington resident, U.S. Navy veteran, and a Class of 2020 inductee of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

In September 2020, Clinton County recognized Paul for his “dedication and commitment in military service as well as his exceptional post military advocacy and volunteerism for the veteran community.” A 2020 News Journal article called him “the voice and the fountain pen for Clinton County veterans organizations and related projects.”

Wayne Miller (foreground) with Jack Rose before take-off on a mission.

Submitted photos