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Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Remembering a hero from Ybor

Published:   |   Updated: March 14, 2013 at 12:40 AM

It was an achingly beautiful Florida fall day when they buried Rosie at Myrtle Hill Cemetery on Thursday.

Frank "Rosie'' Rosado Jr. had his second honor guard in two days. Earlier an honor guard of firefighters had come to his visitation service. Rosado deserved them both.

You can call Rosado one of the lucky ones among that great legion of veterans who serve their country and then come home to lead productive lives.

Too many vets are unable to get on with their lives after leaving the military. Too many develop emotional as well as physical problems that they never overcome.

Rosado was a true hero who returned from World War II and became a firefighter in Ybor City, where he had grown up. In 2008, more than a half-century after his war years, he received a handful of medals he was entitled to but never had received, including awards from France, Belgium and he Netherlands. Rep. Kathy Castor also helped Rosado receive oak leaf clusters for the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, showing he had earned the same medals more than once.

Growing up in Ybor, Rosado went to the old Jefferson High School. I figure with a nickname like "Rosie'' he had to be tough. "He was always a worker,'' says his nephew Jerry Martinez. "I remember his father gave him an old truck. Every morning he would drive it across the bridge to St. Pete to a place where he could pick mangoes and bring them back to Tampa to sell.''

Mangoes might not have been in Rosado's plans for the future but he was part of that generation that did things they never imagined.

The war came and Rosado, at age of 18, became a member of the Army's Company D, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He was among those who plunged into the darkness of coastal France on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

It was not enough that -- like so many -- he landed in the wrong place; he also landed on his rifle butt, which slammed into his face and broke his jaw. Later, when his unit moved into the Netherlands, his leg and ankle were wounded by shrapnel.

Hospitalized briefly, he returned to combat and was at the Battle of the Bulge where he suffered frostbite on his feet. He remained in combat, eventually making his way across Germany.

You listen to these stories and shake your head at how these men did what they did, then came home to the lives they had left behind.

Rosado did come back, was twice a widower and served as a firefighter at Fire Station 4 in Ybor. He retired as a captain.

Frank Rosado Jr.'s story is one more from a generation of people that endured everything from monotony to mayhem in the service of their country.

So you might look around this weekend, find a veteran and see if you can't get a story or two about what he or she did. Then thank them one more time. It is never enough.

sotto@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7809