- Associated Press - Sunday, April 27, 2014

MIAMI, Okla. (AP) - Rosemary Russell was an Army wife for 30 years, during which time she moved across the country multiple times, volunteered with the Red Cross, raised five children, traveled the world and stood by her husband’s side as he went to war, gained a law degree and became a Judge Advocate General.

Rosemary married George G. Russell Jr. on Sept. 22, 1956 and a month later he received his commission as an infantry officer in the United State Army.

“George was born in Picher but when his dad got elected county judge in 1950 they moved to Miami,” Rosemary told The Miami News Record (https://bit.ly/1i9rUDW). “So George graduated from Miami High School in 1952 and we met while he was at Oklahoma University.”

George received his basic infantry training for officers at Fort Benning outside Columbus, Ga., and a year later the couple moved to Fort Bragg, N.C., where George took airborne training with the 82nd Airborne.

George wanted to jump out of airplanes,” Rosemary said. “It was there that he earned his wings.”

While at Fort Bragg Rosemary also gave birth to their first child, a son named George G. Russell III.

From Fort Bragg the couple moved to San Marcos, Texas, where George received his pilot’s license.

Rosemary said they were then off to Fort Lewis, Wash., near Tacoma where she gave birth to their second child, a daughter named Samantha.

George was the deputy commander with the infantry in Washington,” Rosemary said.

In 1962 Charles Daniel was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, while they were stationed at Fort Wainwright. Rosemary said when they moved to Alaska it was before the Alaska-Canadian Highway.

“Back then the ALCAN was like a high-class back road,” she said.

She said after seeing polar bears in Alaska she can understand about global warming threatening their habitat.

“Whenever I hear someone fuss about global warming all I can think about is when the ice melts there isn’t going to be any place for them to go,” Rosemary said. “People don’t realize it because they haven’t seen them moving around with their babies.”

In 1963 while stationed at Fort Chaffee near Fort Smith, Ark., another daughter, Tammy, was born.

Rosemary said when they first got to a new place she would make her rounds knocking on every door to meet her new neighbors.

“I would find out if they had children and organize a babysitting system so that every mother had at least one day off from the kids to have to herself,” Rosemary said.

From 1963 to 1966 they moved to Norman so George could attend law school at the University of Oklahoma.

After he graduated they moved to Fort Sill in Lawton where he worked in the JAG legal office. It was here that Rosemary received “The Artillery Order of Molly Pitcher.”

An honor that is given to women who stand beside the officers and men, “a small tribute to the women who do so much to build a better Fort Sill, a better Army and a better America,” according to the certificate.

In 1968 George was called to serve a tour in Vietnam in the Staff Judge Advocate department where he performed court-martials. While he was away Rosemary did everything she could to keep busy she said.

She said when George came home from the war they moved from base to base about every three years. They lived in Leavenworth, Kan.; Charlotte, N.C.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Shafter, Hawaii; Springfield, Va.; and back to Fort Riley where George retired in 1985.

Between 1972 to 1985 Rosemary gave birth to their fifth child, a son named Gus, volunteered with the Red Cross, and went to England, Australia and the Philippines with her George on JAG duty.

One particular story she said was amazing was when her husband took her back to the Panama Canal in the 1980s. As a little girl in the 1950s, Rosemary said she remembers going to the Canal with her father, Charles F. Wantland, who had been the postmaster when the canal was built. He worked there from 1906 to 1916.

George had called ahead and told the colonel that my dad had been the postmaster when they built the canal,” Rosemary said. “So the colonel contacted the historical society and told them we were coming down.”

As a special treat, the historical society invited Rosemary and George to a luncheon where they had displayed pictures of when the canal was built and many of them had her father in them.

“The president of the historical society took us out on a little boat to a big ocean liner and we got to ride through the canal,” She said. “Then we got back on the little boat that took us to where the canal opens and closes and I was allowed to push the buttons that opened the locks to allow the big ships to come on through.”

“There were so many wonderful things to see and do while we were living in these places,” Rosemary said.

In 1990, after moving to Miami, George became the city attorney and three years later he died while playing golf.

Rosemary said she will always cherish her experience as an Army wife. In 30 years she said she experienced a dozen lifetimes and saw places many only dream of.


Information from: The Miami News-Record, https://www.miaminewsrecord.com

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