Profiles of Valor: LTG Don Rodgers — American Patriot
“At attention or in repose the Patriot commands the strength to vanquish all foes.”
It was 30 years ago at the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm, that I met a new friend at a national security briefing. He had just retired from active duty and joined the reserve national defense unit in which I was serving at the time.
He was a fellow Tennessean named Don Rodgers, a Vietnam vet whose last career post was Director of Defense Information System Agency (DISA) and the Manager of the National Communications System (NCS). He had previously served as Commanding General, United States Army Information Systems Command, at Fort Gordon, and concurrently served as the Commanding General of Fort Gordon.
I recognized his name because his lovely spouse, June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger Shuttle commander Dick Scobee, served on a ministry board with my wife. June’s spirit is defined by silver linings in storms of sorrow, and she remains a constant source of inspiration for all around her every day.
Don and June were introduced by former President George H.W. Bush, and after they were married, moved to our hometown. Don and I became instant friends, but I suspect anybody who knew Don well would say they became instant friends — that was Don’s nature.
Accordingly, Don was a motorcycle enthusiast and always had a great bike – he toured with veteran groups. But you would not know if he had three stars or three stripes, every active-duty warrior and veteran of any rank was a peer.
He was an accomplished leader and, like all great leaders, he combined both strength and humility. He and June are people of extraordinary courage commensurate with their strong faith.
It was with a deep sense of sadness and loss that I heard from June of Don’s passing – it reduces me to tears as I write this.
June said of her husband and best friend: “He was a delightful friend to all he met, he was a loving and faithful husband, a devoted Dad and playful grandfather. He was ever so proud to serve his country for 34 years. He was a true Patriot.”
As was the case with another great Patriot we lost earlier this year, Lt. Col. Bill Gauntt (USAF, Ret.), POW, Don was a member of our Patriot Post National Advisory Committee and a fellow board member of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center.
Our National Advisory Board chairman and Patriot Post military analyst B. B. Bell, General (U.S. Army, Ret.), offered these words in tribute to our friend:
“Lieutenant General Don Rodgers was one of America’s finest military leaders and communications/electronics experts. When he was serving, the word was out — If you have a communications, electronics, or signals intelligence issue, Don Rodgers will make it better, fix it, or, if necessary, throw it out and give you something better. He did not know the word, "no.” He was legendary and crucial to America’s military successes over his years of service. We all find a couple of leaders who we respect and admire and as I was progressing through the ranks this great man was one who I looked up to and learned from. Thank you, sir, for all you did for your nation, America’s military, and our great Army. When one touches buttons in today’s military (and everything is controlled and directed through these electronic miracles!), the electrons figure out where to go and what to do because of Don Rodgers. God rest your soul. You were one of our great ones. You are now free in Heaven to help God communicate His word to us all.“
June and Dick Scobee’s daughter, Kathie Scobee Fulgham, noted that Don was her Dad for the last 33 years.
She sent this fitting tribute to Don: "Always the Patriot”
“At attention or in repose the Patriot commands the strength to vanquish all foes; Righteous battles he fought for the nation he served so freedom could reign and our words could be heard; But the heart of the Patriot beats louder than war, his steadfast courage, loyalty and pride inspired his soldiers to strengthen them more; Years he devoted his life to that call time away, missed holidays, sacrifices were made by his family and all; From all of life’s battles — the small and the great, he surrounds them with love, builds them up, keeps them safe; And who watches over the Patriot as he tasks? The great Patriot Maker listens to all that he asks; And gifts him with wisdom, strength and resolve, his faith never ending from Heaven above; The Patriot’s legacy will never wither away, because the Patriot’s spirit lives inside us today. His enduring love guides us every step every day!”
Don has rejoined the ranks of all those American Patriots with whom he served. Please join me lifting June and their family up high in prayer.
(Memorial Donations can be made to the Tennessee Tech University Foundation, in memory of LTG Don Rodgers and designated for the College of Engineering, PO Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505. Donations can also be made online.)
(Visit the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center website.)
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776
Join us in prayer for our nation’s Military Patriots standing in harm’s way, for our First Responders, and for their families. Please lift up your Patriot team and our mission to support and defend our Republic’s Founding Principle of Liberty, in order to ignite the fires of freedom in the hearts and minds of our countrymen. Thank you for supporting our nation’s premier online journal of Liberty.
The Patriot Post and our Patriot Foundation Trust are proud sponsors of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Folds of Honor, Honoring the Sacrifice, Warrior Freedom Service Dogs, Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, the Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation.
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