by Steven V. Smith, ’84 – Chair, CAA History Committee
This article originally appeared in the Alumni News of The Citadel – Summer/Fall 2013. It is reprinted here in its entirety with the permission of the Citadel Alumni Association. Several photos have been added to this web post which did not appear in the original print version. The original article may be downloaded here.
In early 1949 a package arrived at the Kenilworth building, Alden Park Manor, Philadelphia addressed to Mr. Samuel W. Rolph. The package contained the flag which covered the casket of his son, Staff Sgt. Robert C. Rolph, killed in action near Hottorf, Germany, Feb. 25, 1945, during the Rhineland campaign. The flag was a tangible reminder of his and his wife’s decision to have their son’s remains permanently interred in one of the newly established World War II cemeteries in Europe rather than returned for burial in the United States. Mrs. Rolph had recently sent a photograph of her son in uniform to The Citadel in response to General Summerall’s request to display it with other Citadel World War II dead on the memorial gallery wall in the library in Bond Hall.
The Netherlands American Cemetery is the only American Military Cemetery in Holland. It contains the final resting place of 8,301 servicemen and women with an additional 1,722 names listed on the Walls of the Missing. There are 40 instances where two brothers are buried side by side. Of the 16 WWI and WWII cemeteries in Europe, the cemetery at Margraten holds the largest number of Citadel alumni. In addition to Robert C. Rolph, ’46, seven other Citadel alumni are buried here and all have been adopted and remembered by grateful Dutch citizens.
At the end of the summer 1942, Robert C. Rolph entered The Citadel with the Class of 1946. After a year at The Citadel, he, like many other cadets and college students, found himself drafted for the war effort. Rolph was initially assigned to Battery C, 2nd Antiaircraft Training Battalion at Fort Eustis, Virginia. Selected in October 1943 for assignment with the Army Specialized Training Program, he was assigned to Section 6 Company A 2517th Service Unit (AST), Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where he studied engineering. However, the urgent need for infantry replacements meant the sacrifice of the AST program and Rolph, like many thousands of others, ended up as a private in the infantry. He was assigned to L Company 3d Battalion, 406th Infantry Regiment, 102d Infantry Division. (more…)