HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - This year, one of the Hall of Heroes inductees is a veteran who left a very big mark on Army aviation.
He had a hand in the development and testing of the Black Hawk, Apache and Comanche helicopters.
Every year during the Veterans Week celebration, the Madison County Heritage Commission inducts six new members into the Hall of Heroes- vets who have received awards for valor and Retired Col. Galen Rosher has many medals for his accomplishments and brave acts.
Rosher is a charismatic man and he enjoys talking about memories from his many years of services. He’s dynamic and down-to-earth and witty. His incredible career is hard to sum up. He followed in the footsteps of his brothers who all served in the military.
“I played soldier from the time I was six and I am still playing soldier! I was predestined to be in the military. It was just ingrained in me,” he said.
For more than 40 years, Rosher made significant contributions to Army Aviation as a trainer, operator and in acquisition assignments. He has served with distinction and valor during combat and peace-time since flight school graduation in 1961.
He did several deployments overseas.
“I did two in Vietnam and one in Korea so by the time I had 10 years in, I thought maybe I’ll just stay on with this,” Rosher stated.
He held key positions involving the development and testing of the Black Hawk and the Apache, as well as managing the technical support contractor team for the Comanche Helicopter.
As an instructor on the Aerial Employment Committee at Fort Benning, Georgia, the classes he developed for Airmobile operations serves as a foundation for many of the tactics employed by current forces.
Born August 25, 1937 in Holt, Michigan, Rosher began his 26-year Army aviation and Armor career at Fort Knox, KY.
Military assignments included: 7th Infantry Division in Korea, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY; 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) in Germany; 11th ACR and 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam; Department of Rotary Wing Training at Fort Rucker, Alabama; Aerial Employment Committee and 2-69 Armor Battalion at Fort Benning, GA; OTEA in Washington, DC evaluating the Abrams tank and Blackhawk helicopter; and AVSCOM in St. Louis, MO supporting development of the Apache helicopter. Upon retirement, he was program manager of a key support effort for the Comanche helicopter.
A master Army aviator and decorated combat veteran being the recipient of the Legion of Merit, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, 40 air medals (four with V Device for Valor), the Bronze Star medal with three oak leaf clusters and the Army Commendation with V device.
From flying 0-1 Bird Dogs and U6-A Beavers in Korea, to two combat tours in Cavalry units in Vietnam and involvement in the research, development and testing of the Black Hawk, Apache and Comanche, he was respected by the troops he led in combat and recognized as a true Army Aviation professional by subordinates, peers, and supervisors.
Rosher joined the 11th Air Cavalry Troop of the Armored Cavalry Regiment which was formed in preparation to deploy to Vietnam. Soon after his arrival, he was designated the unit deployment officer for the Air Cavalry Troop which made him responsible for the movement of all personnel and equipment from Fort Meade to Vietnam. He planning resulted in an efficient effort led to the unit receiving equipment and readiness for combat in record time.
As the commander of an Air Cavalry Troop in 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry Regiment 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam, his unit was part of the leading element that made the incursion into Cambodia which discovered the largest weapons cache found during the war.
During his second tour in Vietnam, his helicopter got shot down.
“I couldn’t move my controls so we crashed. As things settled down, we realized there was an ambush right there. We got the guns off the helicopters and set up a perimeter and thought the worst was going to happen. In 15 minutes, another set of guns from 1st Squadron 9th Cav came back and extracted us. They were one of the best units in Vietnam,” he explained.
Rosher went on to evaluate the Abrams tank and Blackhawk helicopter; and supported development of the Apache helicopter.
He also worked for the Aerial Employment Committee, the classes he developed serve as a foundation for tactics used by current forces.
“We were developing new tactics for air mobility and it was exciting and a good job. There, I felt like I made a real contribution on air mobility. To take some of those ideas from the field and the things that I’d been doing and incorporate them in some of the aircraft that we were developing so I was very fortunate,” he said.
As director for AVSCOM’a Advanced Systems Directorate, Rosher served as principal technical advisor to the commander of AVSCOM on all matters pertaining to the research and development of Army Aviation Systems. He revitalized the Research and Development Program for industry by managing the integration of new technology contributions into meaningful Army purposes. He orchestrated the efforts of the directorate in transition mission areas deficiencies into technology solutions which provided effective aviation equipment on the battlefield of the future.
He retired as a colonel and joined a company as program manager that competed for and won the technical support contract for the Light Utility Helicopter, later designated the Comanche. He worked as a contractor for another 20 years.
Rosher been married to Ilah, his high school sweetheart, for 60 years. They have three children, 11 grandchildren and one great granddaughter named Morgan.
“I was fortunate enough after 26 years in the military to get a job as a contractor. All the rest of that time was working helicopters and working with the Comanche so I loved my career,” he added. “What I did in my careers was very fulfilling. They were good, responsible jobs.”
His induction into the Hall of Heroes was a pleasant surprise.
“You’re recognized by your peers. We’re all buddies and companions and for your peers to put me in for that, it was moving for me,” he added.