Cerro Gordo County

Lt. James Keith Rozen







Mason City Air Observer Completes 132nd Mission

Lt. Keith Rozen Awarded Medals; Gets Sight of Rome

EDITORS NOTE: In the following story 1st Lt. J.Keigh Rozen, son of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Rozen, Hotel Hanford, tells of his experiences in directing artillery fire on big German guns near Rome. The story came from 5th army headquarters in Italy, reported to field correspondent, Sgt. Fred W. Welty

5TH Army Field Correspondent

With the 5th Army, Italy -- "Yes, I saw Rome again today," nonchalantly announced 1st Lt. James K. Rozen, 18 Washington S.W., Mason City, Iowa, forward artillery observer on the allied 5th army's Anzio beachhead in Italy.

Smiling, he stepped out of a Piper Cub, strode across a landing strip through ankle-high daisies and jumped sideways into a waiting jeep.

This minor event marked successful completion of Lt. Rozen's 132nd air mission over the beachhead since D-Day, 3 months before."I glanced at Rome," the 23 year old officer said, bouncing in the jeep returning to his unit's camp, "and saw the buildings glistening in the sun. The only movement I saw was a wisp of smoke...probably from a Kraut chimney!

"Then I went to the business at hand. I directed artillery fire on big German guns, tanks and trucks. Flak burst around but didn't hit us.

"It was good hunting, lots of sport -- until a couple of Messerschmitts dived out of the sun. We nosed down, and hugged the ground. It was as easy as that. They don't chase us at low altitude."

The jeep skidded to a halt at the 5th army sector.

The short, good-natured lieutenant said, "Confidentially sergeant, my job is an easy one - a cinch."

But the sergeant would listen to none of it.

Anybody who flies 132 times over the Anzio Beachhead, past the upturned noses of German guns has, in our books, far from an easy job.

In a "Maytag Messerschmitt" the 5th army observer flies without parachute, probing enemy lines. Everything from Kraut small arms fire to heavy ack-ack opens up and, occasionally German fighter planes are on the defenseless Cub's tail.

In theory and in fact Lt. Rozen (or any other 'lone eagle' 5th army forward observer) could be responsible for stopping cold any German attack the Germans are able to mount. The guns Flyer Rozen has at his command are his battalion's 75-mm pack howitzers, other battalions of 155-mm "Long Toms" and 105-mm guns and the combined guns of the navy's off-shore fleet.

"That's a lot of lead for the Krauts," said Rozen, a veteran of 6 parachute jumps and once a Chevrolet sale manager in Mason City. "I suppose I could bump off the entire German army. That is, if they'd line up 'by the numbers' withing range of my guns."

In an outfit where the woods are full of daredevils, Forward Observer Rozen is usually pointed out as Number 1 Daredevil.

Lt. Rozen was handed a citation. He read its typewritten words outloud:

"You are awarded an Air medal for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight over the allied 5th army's Anzio beachhead. You successfully accomplished 35 air missions within 20 days and you will be awarded Clusters for your succeeding successful missions."

It was a big moment for Lt. Rozen.

He paused and then exclaimed, "It's signed by General Clark!"

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, May 24, 1944

BACK IN ACTION -- First Lt. J. Keith Rozen, son of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Rozen, Hotel Hanford, is back with his old paratrooper division after having fully recovered from wounds received when he parachuted in the recent invasion of southern France.

Lt. Rozen was previously wounded at the Anzio beachhead and had received the purple heart award. He participated in the Africa invasion, later the Sicilian and Italian and now in the invasion of France. He holds the air medal with several oak leaf clusters.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, September 2, 1944 (photo included)