By Don R. Marsh

“Show me a hero, and I will write you a tragedy,” said F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

Perhaps he wasn’t a hero in the true sense of the word, but to the men who fought under his command, he was an American military legend. Major General Maurice Rose was the Commanding General of the US Third Armored Division during World War Two and spearheaded some of the most strategic battles in the campaign to defeat Nazi Germany.  He was killed in action while leading his men in the last days of the fighting in the war.

It was while I was researching his military record to write the General’s biography in a joint project with my literary partner and coauthor, Steven L. Ossad, that I discovered the General had a son, who was only four years old when his father died in 1945.

In 1996, fifty-one years after the death of General Rose, I began my search for the son, named Maurice Roderick Rose. As a Life Member of the Third Armored Division Association from time to time I would submit brief short stories in the Association’s quarterly Newsletter about my wartime experiences and memories. One story in particular, “The Man From Colorado,” featured my memory of General Rose at Carentan, France, one of the D-Day objectives. It caught the eye of former Major Haynes Dugan, who served in General Rose’s Headquarters and later became the Division Association Historian.  He informed me that the General’s son was in law enforcement in San Antonio, Texas.

            I then contacted my law enforcement sources and obtained his phone number at his office and his title – Chief of Police at the City of San Antonio Airport. I made the call and quickly identified myself as having served with his father during the war. That failed to impress him and he answered, “So what do you want with me?” I explained the biography project and that I was seeking as much information as possible to establish the family history, after learning his widowed mother was still alive in San Antonio.

In the course of conversation, he bluntly asked the surprise question, “Have you found my brother Mike?” I had to admit that I was not aware that he had a brother. It was then that I learned that his father had been married twice and that Mike was his son from the first marriage. Asking him for details, the best he could recall from information given to him by his mother, Virginia, was that his father had married a young woman from the Salt Lake City area with the odd first name of Venus. Her family name had been either Hanson or Larson. I had nothing else to go on and thus begun my long search to find his missing half-brother, not knowing if his half-brother was still alive.

I assumed that if Venus Hanson/Larson was from Salt Lake City that chances are she was a Mormon and that the odds being in my favor, I could quickly check the Mormon Library, which has the finest genealogy records in the world. But it was one disappointment after another. I spent hours at the Mormon Branch Library (open to the public) in Orange, California, checking indexes and ordering numerous microfiche reels of tape from the Salt Lake City Main Library. I was seeking records of her residing in Utah during the period of 1920 to 1930 and giving birth to a son.

She, Venus Hanson or Larson, could not be found in their records. But I was not discouraged nor ready to give up as young Maurice (known as Reece) said his brother Mike did exist and I intended to find him.

Months went by and it soon led to years, but I couldn’t turn it loose without finding Mike Rose for his brother Reece. Unless you have a brother, you wouldn’t understand that it is a “brother thing.” I also leaned on my partner Steve and my family members with computers to lend a hand at the task. All were willing, and despite their jobs and family obligations, they searched the Internet for clues. It became a team effort.

It was Steve Ossad, who on April 20, 2001, turned up the first critical hit; he located a Venice Hanson in Utah. Apparently, Venice had become Venus in the “Texas-speak” translation and had thrown us off the trail. Now we got into the search full bore. I then went to the National Archives in Laguna Niguel, California, and dug through the microfiche US National Census for 1920 (January) and there was Venice residing with her parents and two brothers at 1365 Emerson Avenue, Salt Lake City. Then Steve found her all-important marriage date to 20-year-old ex-soldier, Maurice Rose, now a civilian, on 12 June 1920 in Salt Lake City. This was the match we had been looking for. Next my daughter Donna found Venice Hanson listed in Ancestory.com under her mother Maud’s maiden family name, Payne (Utah Pioneers) and that gave us burial dates and locations that led to finding Venice’s burial date in 1962 in Salt Lake City in the family plot. Here the trail went cold. But not for long, when the value of our computers came into play for research.

Daughter Donna searching the Yahoo site turned up a hit on a Maurice Rose, Major, USMC, who had written a paper while attending the Marine Corps University at Quantico, Virginia in 1956-57. Backtracking to the old newspaper published obituary for the death of grandfather Rabbi Samuel Rose in the Denver News in 1945, it listed a grandson, “Maurice, serving with the Marines.” Now began another segment of the growing mystery – suddenly we have three men all with the name of Maurice – a father and his two sons, all with the same first name! This Maurice- the- Marine had to be the missing brother, a.k.a. Mike.

So we knew Mike- the- Marine was alive in 1955, but where was he now? My son Gary, a former newspaper reporter, suggested contacting the Salt Lake City leading newspaper to check the obituary desk and ask for the file on the burial of Venice Rose in 1962. Gary made the call and learned that although Venice Rose had been buried in Salt Lake City in the family plot; however, that she had died in Spokane, Washington, on 7 March 1962. Gary then suggested that I phone the Spokane News and ask for the obituary desk to obtain a copy of the obit for Venice Rose. The information in the obituary stated, that a son, a Major in the Marines, survived Mrs.Venice Rose. So where was he now? We felt we were getting closer, but we had a 38-year gap to close.

Late one night, Donna, was surfing the Internet in the military.com site and found a great hit. It read: “Colonel Maurice Rose, MOS 9906 (meaning unassigned colonel), Retired, USMC, 1974” BINGO!  Next to bridge the gap of 1974, to the present.

Through a friend in Washington, DC, Ed Miller, an Army retired Lt. Colonel, I learned that if I wrote a letter to the US Marine Corps Headquarters at Quantico, Virginia, and addressed my letter to Col. Rose and they would forward the letter, if he was still alive, to his last known home of record at the time of retirement. This accomplished, I sat back and waited for his reply, which was not forthcoming. After nearly a month had passed, my letter sent to the Marine Corps and addressed to Col. Rose was returned and stamped “Undeliverable – addressee unknown”, which meant he had moved. But it gave his old address. An invaluable clue!

The next day I drove down to the old address, listed on the returned envelope, to the small village of Fallbrook, located right outside the back gate of Camp Pendleton. My first stop was next door to his former home; there I met a very helpful couple, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Reed, who had known Col. “Mike” and his wife, Pat. They informed me that Mike had sold the place a few years back and moved to the nearby city of Vista. But he now had an unlisted phone number.

I tried my sources to find the unlisted number to no avail. I then decided to contact Phyllis Reed one more time and try to obtain Mike’s phone number. It paid off – on Sunday, December 9th, my phone rang and when I answered, the voice on the other end said, “This is Mike Rose, I understand that you have been looking for me. What for?” Those words were similar to those used by his brother Reece when I called him in 1996!

I quickly explained my mission, in keeping with my promise, trying to locate him for his half-brother Reece, in Texas, who had been searching for him his entire adult life.  I asked Mike’s permission to phone Reece and give him his phone number and he said, “Sure, go ahead.” I made the call as soon as we hung up. When I told Reece that I had finally found his brother Mike, all he could say was, “The hell you did! My friends in the DEA and FBI couldn’t find him! Man, you are some detective!” He then became choked with emotion. He thanked me profusely and asked if I thought it was all right to call Mike right then. I said, “Reece, it’s time -- make the call.” He did so immediately.

The two men -- Mike, now 76 and the other, Reece, soon to be 61-- are planning on a California “family reunion” in the spring of 2002, though each of them are very aware that it will be the first meeting of the two sons of General Maurice Rose. Considering my involvement in the “discovery”, I hope to be invited.

In the interim they are exchanging phone calls, photos and e-mails to get better acquainted. Now that they have found each other, they have many lost years to make up for. So the long lost brother has finally been found – fate meant it to be. Written 12/29/2001 -- Mike’s 76th Birthday

Publication or reproduction, in part or whole, is prohibited without written permission from the author, Don R. Marsh. All rights remain the sole property of The Marsh Family Trust.