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Lieutenant John Rosenwald

Killed in Action
France, May 6, 1918

A street in Fort Snelling National Cemetery is named for him. The New York Times reported his death.

Rosenwald first gained recognition as a star football player for the University of Minnesota. He was a big man with a solid build, who played left guard. The 1908 season, Rosenwald’s senior year, included a loss to Wisconsin, a scoreless tie with Nebraska and a crushing 29- 0 defeat at the hands of powerhouse University of Chicago. Reports of that game noted that the center of the Minnesota line was impregnable, but Chicago effectively utilized the forward pass to score again and again.

The biggest game of the 1908 season on November 21 was against Carlisle, one of the top teams in the East. The legendary Pop Warner coached Carlisle and his team featured a young running back named Jim Thorpe, who could pass, run and kick. He had put on quite a show against Harvard and Penn in previous games. The Eastern schools dominated football. They had little respect for “Western” schools, such as Minnesota. Dr. Henry Williams, the Minnesota coach, drilled his squad for two weeks on the forward pass, which they had down to a science. The game was a brutal clash before fifteen thousand screaming fans at Northrop Field. Thorpe was impressive, as always, but the Minnesota defense contained him. The first half ended in a 6-6 tie. Dr. Williams did not substitute a player the entire game. The Minnesota eleven went both ways. The Gophers scored a touchdown in the second half to win a stunning upset of mighty Carlisle. It was the final game of Rosenwald’s career. The game was not only noteworthy for Thorpe’s presence, but the nation noted the West’s first victory over a major Eastern team in the 20th Century.

John Rosewald graduated from the University of Minnesota and then completed medical school. He was a well regarded Minneapolis physician and surgeon, who answered the call of war in 1917. He was thirty-four years old and married.

Lieutenant John Rosenwald became a medical officer in the 151 st Field Artillery, the 42nd Division. The 151st was comprised of men from Minnesota, many of them from Minneapolis.

On May 6, 1918, the 151st Artillery was in the Luneville sector in the Lorraine region of France. Rosenwald received the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry. His citation reads:

He twice entered the quarry of Battery C, 151st FA, under heavy shell fire, during the action at Pexonne, France on March 5, 1918 in order to care for the wounded. He died May 6, 1918 of wounds received in action. A shell fragment reportedly pierced his neck and severed his jugular vein.

The New York Times of May 7 reported:

Lieut. Rosenwald, Once Noted as Football Player, Killed. With the American Army in France, May 6 (Associated Press). Lieutenant John Rosenwald of the Medical Corps, who was formerly one of the best known of the Western football players, has been killed by shellfire in the Luneville sector. Lieutenant Rosenwald, whose home was in Minneapolis, was a guard of the University of Minnesota eleven a few years ago and made a brilliant record. On the field of battle his record was even better. He distinguished himself two or three times in bombardments, notably in the engagement in which the heroic Sergeant Peterson was killed a short time ago.

[Peterson, also of the Medical Department of the 151st was killed in action in March. A street in Fort Snelling National Cemetery is also named in his memory].

Papers across the nation carried the story of Rosenwald’s death. The Bisbee (Arizona) Daily Review headlined a front-page story with “Grid Star Killed By Shell Fire in Battle with Hun”.

The United States Army buried Lieutenant Rosenwald with full military honors at the French cemetery in Baccarat, France. Many other Americans rest in peace beside him. Rosenwald left a young wife, Mayme.

The University of Minnesota honored John Rosenwald and over eighty others, who lost their lives in the war, in the 1920 Gopher yearbook.