Gerhart S. Rogde (Gary)
Philip, Hilland, Hartley, SD
1934, 1794, Rockerville, F-10
1934, 2756, Farm Island (Pierre), S-207
1935, 2756, Pierre, S-207 USFS
1936-37, 2756, Pierre, S-207 Army overhead truck driver
Gerhart "Gary" S. Rogde, was born October 5, 1916 in South Dakota and passed away on January 21, 2012 in Idaho at a local hospital at age 95.
Gary was born October 5, 1916 in Hilland, South Dakota. He was the fourth and youngest child of Norwegian immigrant parents, Nels and Ingeleiv Rogde. They lived on a homestead and worked hard -- a trait that remained with him his entire life. Times were hard, especially during the Depression. He went to a consolidated school in Marietta from 1930-31, riding a horse 13 miles round trip every day.
Gary left home at age 16 to help earn money for the family. He first began working with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) building roads with a team of horses and a fresno. Later he worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1934-1937, working heavy equipment and driving the "town truck", hauling men, freight, and groceries. "Good money" Gary said, earning $30/month -- $5 for him and $25 for his parents.
After 8 consecutive years of drought the family sold almost everything they owned -- personal items, machinery, cattle, and horses for $1,037. Land was worthless -- $1 an acre or back taxes would buy a homestead. In 1938 Gary helped move his parents from South Dakota to Boise. He had various jobs, including working for Boise Floral.
In the spring of 1941 he, along with many young men from the Treasure Valley, signed up to work with Morrison-Knudsen Co. Their work was to complete construction contract jobs for the U.S. government, building the Pacific Naval Air Base on Wake Island. Gary worked specifically on building the airport. On December 8, 1941, Wake Island was attacked by the Japanese. After 15 days of fighting back the enemy, the island was surrendered to the Japanese.
In mid-January of 1942, hundreds of men were sent to prison camps in China. Gary was one of several prisoners who were kept on Wake Island to continue the construction work. In September of 1942, Gary and 265 other prisoners were sent to prison camps in Japan on a coal-burning tanker. These POW's worked as slave laborers and built Soto Dam at Sasebo, on the island of Kyushu. While working in the rock quarry his leg and hand were broken in August of '43. He remained in prison camp until the end of the war in 1945 -- a total of 44 months in captivity.
The route home was long. He was delayed in Okinawa because of a typhoon. He spent a month in a hospital in the Philippines and another week in a military hospital in San Francisco. His return was a tremendous surprise to his family. During that terrible ordeal as a POW, strong friendships were formed and lasted a lifetime. They formed an organization called "Survivors of Wake, Guam, & Cavite", and met regularly for nearly 60 years after the war. After years of petitioning, Gary and his fellow Wake Islanders were granted Veteran status by President Ronald Reagan and joined others as Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In May of 1946 Gary married Phebe Haines whom he had known before the war. They lived in Garden Valley and Boise, later moving to Eagle in 1965. They had a small farm in Eagle and a ranch in Garden Valley. Gary also managed a service station in Boise for over 20 years. Together they raised five children, four daughters and one son.
Gary worked hard but he also loved to joke and pull a few pranks. He loved to socialize, to dance, and was always listening to music -- his father playing the violin; songs from the Big Band era; polkas; and Country/Western music. Gary loved to hunt and fish and told many humorous stories about his trips.
Gary was proud of his Norwegian heritage and was active in the Sons of Norway lodge as a Charter and Golden member. He traveled to Norway twice and met many family members.
Gary is survived by his children: Susan, of Eagle; Linda, of Eagle; Dave, of McCall; Bonnie (Varen) of Mesa, AZ; Sherie, of Provo, UT; nieces, nephews, and their families. He has four grandchildren: Audra Stewart (Jason), Tainui, Sean, and Tahuahi Rogde-Berryman; and two great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife, his parents, two brothers, a sister, a niece and nephews.
A viewing was held on Friday, January 27, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at Cloverdale Funeral Home, 1200 N. Cloverdale Road in Boise. Funeral services held Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm at Cloverdale Funeral Home. Burial at Dry Creek Cemetery, Ada County, Idaho. Farewell to a hero of the Greatest Generation.
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