Editor’s Scratchpad

Friday, January 4, 2002

‘General’ never
abandoned his post

One of my first gigs as a reporter was to interview John Rogers at Fort Derussy Park in 1996. The story was probably about veterans since it was a Sunday and he was there feeding homeless veterans as usual. Rogers proudly showed me a letter signed by President Bill Clinton, who had addressed the retired master sergeant as "General" John Rogers. "Great," I thought, "Clinton doesn't bother to check whether this guy is a real general so now Rogers is going around town saying his title is backed up by the President of the United States."

Years later, but long before Sept. 11, I saw Rogers on the corner of Kalakaua and Kapiolani, waving the Stars and Stripes and smiling at everybody. I laughed to myself and before I knew it I was honking my horn and giving him the shaka sign in return. There he was, on the front lines inspiring his troops as a general should. I thought, "Maybe Bill knew who he was writing back to after all."

John Rogers, a good American, passed away a few days before Christmas while on duty at his corner. Goodbye, General. Sorry for doubting your rank.

--Rod Antone

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