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PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr., an Unsung WWII Hero of Memphis

Updated on June 7, 2017
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Robert Odell Jr filmed and interviewed the descendants of three African American WWII heroes. All three men died on the same calendar day.

Associated With an American Five-Star General

During WWII, PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr. was in close association with the famed, American Five-Star General, Douglas McArthur. Like Gen. McArthur, PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr. was also an American WWII hero. Rodgers was awarded the WWII victory medal for his valiant efforts and courageous show of character during the heat of battle.

PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr.:

  • chauffeured General Douglas McArthur during WWII,
  • served as a US Army heavy duty equipment operator during intense scrimmages,
  • is linked, by the calendar day of October 15, to the Tuskegee Airman fighter pilot, Lt. Col. Luke J. Weathers, Jr., and
  • is linked, by the calendar day of October 15, to the world famous photographer, Ernest C. Withers, Sr.

PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr.

PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr. is linked to the Tuskegee Airmen fighter pilot, Lt. Col. Luke J. Weathers, Jr., and the world famous photographer, Ernest C. Withers, Sr., by the fact that they all died on the same calendar day of October 15.

PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr., Luke J. Weathers, Jr., and Ernest C. Withers, Sr. Are Linked by the Calendar Day of October 15

PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr., Luke J. Weathers, Jr., and Ernest C. Withers, Sr.:

  • All died on the calendar day October 15
  • All served in WWII
  • All made great contributions to United States history

Three American Heroes

PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr., Lt. Col. Luke J. Weathers. Jr., and Ernest Withers, Sr., are unsung WWII heroes of Memphis, TN.
PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr., Lt. Col. Luke J. Weathers. Jr., and Ernest Withers, Sr., are unsung WWII heroes of Memphis, TN. | Source

Same Calendar Day but Different Years

Rodgers, Withers and Weathers are three American WWII heroes who died on the same calendar day. The year of death; however, is different for each man.

  • Rodgers died in 1993
  • Withers died in 2007
  • Weathers died in 2011

Where I First Learned

It was at the Benjamin L. Hooks library of Memphis, TN where I first learned about three valiant warriors of history.

Stephanie White of the Memphis Public Libraries asked Andrew 'Rome' Withers, son of the world famous photographer Ernest C. Withers, Sr. to present an exhibition honoring his father.

While planning the event Rome Withers discovered that PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr., and Lt. Col. Luke J. Withers, Jr. both had several things in common with his father, Ernest C. Withers, Sr. What really stood out was the historical fact that all three men were not only WWII veterans and heroes, but they also died on the same calendar day.

PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr. served the United States in WWII during some of the most intense and active stages of the war. Rodgers was a US Army heavy duty equipment operator and was also a valiant escort for Gen. Douglas McArthur.

PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr.; like his fellow WWII comrades, Tuskegee Airman Luke J. Weathers, Jr. and photographer, Ernest C. Withers, Sr., died on October 15.

Heavy Truck Equipment Operator

While assigned to the duty of heavy, truck equipment operator, PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr. exhibited fearlessness, nerve and daring, during his execution of artillery equipment during the war. He displayed extreme courage as he launched heavy mounted guns, cannons, and missiles during the heat of battle in WWII.

PFC Sylvester Rodgers Was a Victory Medal Recipient

According to his son; retired Master Chief Navy veteran Roy Rodgers, PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr. often had many stories to tell about his experiences in WWII. Many of which, seemed "scary" to him and his siblings when they were children.

Courageous character and dauntless, stoutheartedness during battle, are the traits that caused PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr. to be awarded the WWII victory medal.



According to his son; retired Master Chief Navy veteran Roy Rodgers, PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr. often had many stories to tell about his experiences in WWII. Many of which, seemed "scary" ...

The Victory Medal

PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr.  was a Victory medal recipient.
PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr. was a Victory medal recipient. | Source

WWII Victory Medal

The World War II Victory Medal

  • Is a service medal of the United States military
  • Was established by an Act of Congress on July 6, 1945
  • Was first issued as a service ribbon referred to as the “Victory Ribbon”
  • Was established as a full medal and referred to as the World War II Victory Medal in 1946
  • Was awarded to members of the United States military
  • Was awarded to members of the armed forces of the Government of the Philippine Islands


PFC Rodgers Chauffeured a Famous General

Before his honorable discharge from the army on November 3, 1945; PFC Rodgers had the opportunity to chauffeur General Douglas McArthur.
Before his honorable discharge from the army on November 3, 1945; PFC Rodgers had the opportunity to chauffeur General Douglas McArthur. | Source

PFC Sylvester Rodgers Escorted General Douglas McArthur

Before his honorable discharge from the army on November 3, 1945; PFC Rodgers had the opportunity to chauffeur General Douglas McArthur.

Douglas MacArthur:

  • Was an American five-star general
  • Was Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s
  • Was Field Marshal of the Philippine Army
  • Played a prominent role in the Pacific arena during World War II
  • Received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippines Campaign, (which made him and his father Arthur MacArthur, Jr., the first father and son to be awarded the Medal of Honor).
  • Was one of only five men ever to rise to the rank of General of the Army in the US Army
  • Was the only man ever to become a field marshal in the Philippine Army


PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr. Was a US Army Heavy Duty Truck Equipment Driver and a Hero

PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr. often had many stories to tell his children about his experiences in WWII. Many of which, seemed "scary" to them.

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WWII Comrads

Although he had roots in Holy Springs, Mississippi; after WWII, PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr. settled in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Rodgers family became well acquainted and developed life long friendships with the Weathers and Withers families.

Lt. Col. Luke J. Weathers, Jr. was one of the world famous, Tuskegee Airmen, fighter pilots. Weathers died on October 15, 2011.

Ernest C. Withers, Sr. was the world famous photographer who captured, on film, the unforgettable moment when Martin Luther King, Jr. was fatally wounded. Withers died on October 15, 2007.

PFC Sylvester Rodgers, Sr.; like his fellow WWII comrades, Weathers and Withers, died on October 15. Mr. Rodger's year of death; however, was 1993.

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