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Mickey Rogoff

By Tzipi Crandell

Mickey Rogoff with his wife, Lillian Mickey Rogoff with his wife and sister, Audrey
Left: Uncle Mickey Rogoff, with his wife, Lillian. Right: Mickey with his wife and  sister, Audrey. Mickey was a family man. He attended several family events throughout his lifetime. His wife and his siblings (he also had a brother in the US Navy) were the most important things in his life. "I would do anything for them." Mickey once said at a family gathering.

Battle of the Bulge
On December 16, 1944, 200,000 German troops invaded the American front lines under the command of Adolph Hitler. Hitler was completely dependent on uncontrollable outcomes such as bad weather, and the Christmas holiday to catch the Allies by surprise. Thousands of German soldiers pretended to be American troops, and sneaked behind the front lines in battle and began to confuse and attack the soldiers. They came in through parachutes and captured American jeeps. They cut communication lines, captured bridges, gave false directions and began to take the Americans down from the inside. The Germans caused a large bulge in the allied front lines, naming the battle "The Battle of the Bulge". This battle was the largest battle the Americans took part in, and it was one of the largest land battles throughout the entire war. It took the American troops a long time to figure out what was going on and how to resolve the chaos. Private Mickey Rogoff was one of those confused soldiers.

A map showing the progress of the German military before the counterattack. Hitler knew Germany probably was not going to win the war. For this reason, he decided to take many troops  into Western Europet. Map showing the progress of the German military before the counterattack during the Battle of the Bulge

German soldiers advance towards a group of American soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge German soldiers advance towards a group of American soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge, December 16, 1944. Once the American soldiers were confused and chaos had broken out, the German soldiers made clear headway into the heart of the American front lines.

Sly as a Fox
Mickey and his ten comrade team were being chased by a small group of German soldiers when they dove into a fox hole for protection. A few members of his team were shot on the way down, and the size of his group quickly decreased. Several members were wounded or dying, and Private Rogoff did everything he could to help his comrades, but for a number of them, he was too late. Within three days, every member of his team had died, except for him. He spent the next seven days trapped in the fox hole, waiting for rescue. He had little to no food supply, and he had been injured during battle. Finally, after waiting anxiously for ten days, he was rescued by another group of troops.

American soldiers hiding in the Ardennes Forest during the Battle of the Bulge. These soldiers are in the same position of Private Rogoff and his fellow comrades. It was very important to stay hidden and prepared for any surprises or German soldiers that attacked them. Even though it was hard to fight in the weather, the soldiers stayed dedicated and focused throughout the Battle of the Bulge. American soldiers hiding with weapons in the Ardennes Forest during the Battle of the Bulge

Surrender
This was the last battle for Private Rogoff. After he was rescued, he was rushed to the hospital and was given psychiatric care and well as medical attention. Outside the hospital, the Third US Army counterattacked the Germans in the north, due to reinforcements brought in by President Eisenhower and his quick thinking. By the end of the battle, the Americans had lost about 75,000 men, and the Germans lost 80,000 -100,000 soldiers. Hitler believed the Americans were weaker than they truly were, and due to his miscalculations, the Germans surrendered the Battle of the Bulge in the end of January, 1945.
 
Purple Heart
News quickly spread of Private Rogoff's bravery in the battle, and his strong will to stay alive, even after the loss of his fellow comrades. While still undergoing medical treatment, Private Mickey Rogoff was awarded a Purple Heart. Although he was very ill at the time, he was astonished that he was given the award and was grateful for the opportunity to serve his country.

Collage of a Purple Heart Homemade collage of a Purple Heart. Winning a Purple Heart was very important for Private Rogoff. It was a huge accomplishment and a great honor for him to know he had served his country well and fought for the lives of others. Although Mickey was very sick when he was given the award, he was very proud and appreciative.

Nightmares
When Mickey returned home, it was not an easy transition. He was constantly having nightmares, reliving the battle, and would wake up screaming every night. One day, when he went to the movies, they showed a news reel about the Battle of the Bulge, and all the painful memories began to replay in his mind. He started screaming and was removed from the movie theatre. It took Mickey about two years to recover from the painful trauma, but eventually, the pain decreased and he was able to sleep at night. "It was hard to remember I was back at home and not stuck in the fox hole with my dying friends. I couldn't separate what was real and what was my imagination." my grandmother recalls Mickey saying once the trauma had stopped.

Reflection
My uncle Mickey Rogoff was a hero in my eyes. I believe that for anyone to enlist in the army in the first place is an incredibly brave decision. Not only did Mickey do that, but he stayed, trapped in a cave, with the dying bodies of his friends for several days before he was discovered. The unfortunate but common trauma he obtained was yet another struggle for him, even after he left the army. For many war veterans, they let the traumas control them and it becomes very difficult for them to live their lives without the pain of reliving their goriest battles. My uncle decided he did not want to live like that, and fought for two long years until the traumas and nightmares finally resided and he was able to live peacefully until he died in 1979. Although I was never able to meet my uncle, I know that I would have looked up to him and viewed him as a role model for the rest of my life.