This summer, more than 400 veterans of the Vietnam War, including the late Robert “Bob” Rossman of Princeton, were inducted into the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s (VVMF) In Memory program in Washington, D.C.
Rossman, according to his daughter, Becky Rossman, was known as a “kid at heart.”
“My dad was obviously very patriotic,” Becky Rossman said. “When he came back Vietnam, much like other soldiers, he was not treated well, so he was always motivated for veterans’ rights.”
Born in 1947 in Ottawa, Rossman joined the Army more than 50 years ago in 1966. He was the son of John J. Rossman and Agnes M. Wolken Rossman and grew up in Richmond, Kansas. He was a part of the last Princeton High School graduating class, in 1965. Rossman served in the Vietnam War in Cam Rahn Bay from 1967-68, trained as a supply specialist and truck driver. Rossman, with the rank of Specialist Technician, was later honorably discharged. He received several service and marksmanship awards.
In November 1970, Rossman married Vyonne “Vi” Biegert Rossman.
“Mom [Vi Rossman] was from Minnesota,” Becky Rossman said. “She had friends here in Kansas and was corresponding with another gentleman, who was also in the military, and she was coming down here to see him. That went sour, we’ll say, and she was basically getting ready to go back and one of her friends said, ‘Hey, let’s go on this double date.’ It was a blind date for my mom. She met my dad, and basically has been in Kansas ever since.
Bob Rossman proceeded to work for Underwood Equipment John Deere for 27 years, retiring in 1997.
“He was well-known amongst the farming community,” his daughter said. “He was born and raised in Franklin County. He never lived anywhere else.”
Also in 1997, his son, John Rossman, was killed in a car accident.
“For the longest time, he didn’t really talk about the war much, he had lots of slides and pictures he would bring out...but that event [of my brother’s death] pretty much triggered the PTSD, and so after that is when he became more vocal about his time over there,” Becky Rossman said. “Through that process is when he really started to talk about it and heal.”
A charter member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 912 in Ottawa, Rossman held several positions, including president.
According to his page on the In Memory Honor Roll Website, Rossman played a large part “in bringing the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to Eastern Kansas and continued to support veterans’ rights up until his death.”
In April 2013, Rossman had a stroke while fishing.
“Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything they could do,” Becky Rossman said. “We had a military honor funeral in Ottawa.”
The In Memory program, which began in 1999, honors Vietnam vets who died “as a result of their service in Vietnam, but are not eligible for inscription on The Wall under Department of Defense guidelines,” according to the program’s official website. Examples of causes of death that do fit the criteria for In Memory include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related illnesses / events, exposure to Agent Orange and similar chemicals, diabetes, cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, Hodgkin's disease, Ischemic heart disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and Parkinson's disease.
In Memory allows these veterans to still be honored on the National Mall. It now recognizes more than 2,800 veterans.
A plaque honoring these veterans was dedicated in 2004 as a part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, reading: “In Memory of the men and women who served in the Vietnam War and later died as a result of their service. We honor and remember their sacrifice.”
Bob was preceded in death by his beloved son, John Robert Rossman. Survivors include his wife, Vi; son, Christopher Rossman; daughter, Rebecca Rossman, and granddaughters Bailey and Camryn Schneider.
The In Memory Honor Roll maintains a “remembrance” page for each inductee. To see the Honor Roll pages online, visit www.vvmf.org/honor-roll