Special Forces Association Chapter 54

Main Menu

Bulletin Board
Admin Corner
Chapter Officers
Chapter History
LTC Buckley
Chapter Coin
Contact Info


In Memory of
Donald Van Roosen

LTC Donald Van Roosen Special Forces

Donald Van Roosen was the first President of Chapter 54, Special Forces Association. He was the father of three children, two daughters and a son, fellow chapter member Maj Gen Hugh Van Roosen.

Don retired as an LTC after more than 20 years of service in the U.S. Army. At one time he was the commander of Company A, 11th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

His service story begins at age 19 when he left Harvard University during his sophomore year to join the Army in April 1943. World War II was raging in Asia and Europe and the call to arms was loud and clear.

After basic and advanced training, he, and tens of thousands more were shipped to England, where preparations were being made for the impending invasion of Europe. He was assigned to H Company, 115th Infantry, 29th Division in January 1944.

With five months of pre-combat training, including 50 mile ruck marches, he was assigned to a heavy weapons platoon as an assistant gunner. Upon landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy he carried two boxes of machine gun ammo, a bazooka, two bazooka rounds, and his personal gear.

His LCI circled the shoreline waiting for the Beachmaster to order them to begin their assault landing. As they waded ashore in the 3rd wave of the landing on Red Beach the rising tide was covered with dead and wounded soldiers from earlier assault waves. Van Roosen’s wave of troops saw destroyed tanks, half-tracks, trucks, and all kinds of material from the two earlier assault waves. The Germans opened up on their landing craft raking the ship with machine gun fire. He described a scene not very different than the opening scenes of “Saving Private Ryan”. The wreckage of 10 or more landing craft, destroyed before reaching the beach, were blocking their LCI's route to the beach. His LCI finally found an opening and landed its troops.

The landing took its toll on the Division, but they were still prepared for the next phase, the fighting in hedgerow country. Fighting for the next two months slowed the campaign because the hedgerows (6-12’ high) were impregnable. Even tanks could not overcome them and they provided exceptional cover and concealment for enemy snipers and sharpshooters. During the first six weeks of combat US forces suffer 10,000 casualties.

Don was promoted to Sargeant in June, just days after landing, and Staff Sargeant in July. He spent 10 days in August as a Prisoner of War during the final assault on the City of Brest. Two days after being freed was offered a Battlefield Commission in October 1944.

He was awarded numerous awards including the Silver Star, Bronze Star with V device, four Purple Hearts, Prisoner of War medal, Presidential Unit Citation, and Combat Infantry Badge. After his service in World War II he continued his career in the U.S. Army Reserve for a total of 23 years military service. He retired as a Lt. Colonel in 1970.

He graduated from Harvard College in 1949 and later worked in manufacturing sales and as an International Marketing consultant. He did over fifty years of volunteer work with the Boy Scouts of America.


History summary of LTC Donald Von Roosen provided by Bill Fanaras, 10 December 2022

D-Day History - Donald Van Roosen. D-Day veteran tells a haunting story of a childhood trip to Germany in the late 1930s, wehre a change encounter with a stranger gave him a firsthand look at the evils of Hitler's Germany. YouTube, 2014, 3 minutes.

Obituary and Tributes




LTC William F. Buckley
Memorial Chapter

Serving Green Berets
in Massachusetts
and Beyond

Special Forces Shoulder Patch


Special Forces Crest

All external sites open up in new window.
Please report broken links or inaccurate content to john@north-point.org
© Copyright 2003-2024