Sergeant Major E-9 Eugene Rockholt was so anxious to get into World War II that he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at age 17. That was too young to fly and he was discharged for misrepresenting his age.
He didn’t give up. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in May 1945 and in the U.S. Army in July 1949. Rockholt would serve 32 years in the Service, including combat service in the Korea War and the Vietnam War.
Rockholt will be among 10 veterans inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame Oct. 21 at the Embassy Suites, 2501 Conference Dr., in Norman.
Seven of the inductees including Rockholt are deceased.
Rockholt was born Jan. 10, 1927, in Quanah, Texas, and died April 14, 2003, at Moore, Ok.
After enlisting the in the Army, he went to Officers Candidate School and was commissioned as a lieutenant in Artillery in 1951 and sent to Japan and then to Korea where the war going on. He remained until the end of the Korea conflict.
In 1953 he attended Hardin Simmons University and worked for the City Police Department in Abilene, Texas.
Rockholt enlisted again in 1954 in the 11th Airborne Division, serving in Germany and then in the 24th Infantry Division. He was sent to Lebanon in 1958 with the Airborne Brigade.
Rockholt returned to Fort Bliss’ U.S. Army Air Defense School. He was assigned to Co. A, 32nd Infantry Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division and sent to Korea, joining a Special Forces Training Group.
In 1962 he was assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group on Okinawa. He served two missions in the Republic of Vietnam.
Rockholt returned to Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1965 and was sent back to Vietnam. He served from 1966 to 1967 and extended his tour in Vietnam twice, serving there through 1970.
He was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor on August 25, 1966, while commanding a Special Forces patrol in an assault on a fortified Viet Cong emplacement. When his weapon jammed, he continued fighting with his pistol, obtained a radio and directed effective air strikes on the enemy. He risked his life aiding several wounded soldiers. When the patrol left for evacuation, Rockholt directed air strikes to cover the withdrawal, staying behind until everyone was in the helicopter.
Later in his career, he was the Senior Enlisted Adviser to the 95th Division (U.S. Army Reserve) which had units in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. He returned as a Sergeant Major and was placed on the retirement rolls as a Captain.