The Early Years
Maurice Rose was born on November 26,1899 and moved to Denver in 1902. Raised as a member of a prominent Jewish family, Maurice wanted to be a soldier from a very young age. When opportunity struck, a young Rose ran away from home and dropped out of Denver East high school to join the military-- despite being underaged. In 1917, Maurice Rose formally enlisted in officer’s training, beginning a military career that would last until his death in 1945.
On November 26, 1899, Sam and Katy Rose welcomed their second son, Maurice. Despite the auspicious date of his birth, which fell on the eve of Hanukkah, the young family could not have imagined the path their newborn son would take, shaping a war and the world in the process.
Born the son of a rabbi in Russia and raised in Warsaw, Poland, a young Sam had dreamed of being a soldier. However, time and the more practical considerations of his family forced him to follow in his father’s footsteps and continue the family’s lumber business.1 Limited prospects for Jews in Poland led Sam to America in 1883, where he met and married Katherin “Katy” Brown in 1893.
Though they were living happily in Connecticut, Sam’s worsening tuberculosis led the family to seek a new home in the West. This was a common practice for tuberculosis patients at the turn of the century.2 Seeking the fresh air and sunlight that was touted as a miracle cure, Sam, Katy and their two sons, five year old Arnold and three year old Maurice, packed up their home and moved to Denver in 1902. In Denver, the Rose family were active and visible members of the Jewish community. Rabbi Sam Rose was a lay leader of religious services at the Beth Ha-Medrosh Hagodol synagogue. Maurice and his brother Arnold both graduated from the Hebrew school at the synagogue before attending Denver East High School.3 Maurice, like his father before him, had always dreamed of being a soldier. He fired his first gun at age 8, joined the Boy Scouts at age 11, and by age 15 was eager to join the Army.4
In early 1916, trouble at the US-Mexico border threatened to bring the two countries into direct conflict with each other.5 Maurice believed this to be the perfect opportunity to prove himself and serve his country. In June 1916, at age 16 ½, Maurice Rose asked his parents to join the Colorado National Guard. Concerned about the wellbeing of their teenaged son who had yet to graduate from high school, Sam and Katy Rose refused to sign their consent. Despite their refusal, Maurice hitchhiked to the National Guard encampment, told the recruiting officer he was 18, and was assigned to Troop B of the Colorado National Guard. Thus, Private Maurice Rose was born. When his parents came to collect the underaged soldier, Maurice insisted on his chosen path. “I made my bed and I’m going to sleep in it. And, I’m going to make good,” the young soldier insisted. Despite his enthusiasm for military life, –the commanding officer of the encampment even commended the young soldier’s parents on his noteworthy discipline– Maurice’s parents wanted him home. Private Rose was honorably discharged on August 8, 1916.6
Back in Denver, young Maurice continued to demonstrate the discipline and leadership abilities that would come to define his life. For a brief time, Maurice worked with his brother Arnold at a meat packing plant. Around this time, tensions between the US and Germany were coming to a head. On April 6, 1917, President Wilson declared war on Imperial Germany and America officially entered World War I. Maurice Rose, still underaged, finally received his parents' permission and applied for the officers training program at Camp Logan.7 With his acceptance, Rose’s career as an officer had begun.
1. Robert Gamzey. “Life Story of Gen Rose.” Intermountain Jewish News, April 19, 1945.
2. Stephen L Ossad and Don R Marsh. Major General Maurice Rose: World War II’s Greatest Forgotten General (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2006), 46.
3. Robert Gamzey. “Life Story of Gen Rose, Chapter Two,” Intermountain Jewish News, April 26, 1945.
4. “Expedition in Mexico,” US State Department Archive. last modified 2009, https://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/wwi/108653.htm.
5. Robert Gamzey. “Life Story of Gen Rose, Chapter Three.” Intermountain Jewish News, May 3, 1945.
6. Stephen L Ossad and Don R Marsh. Major General Maurice Rose: World War II’s Greatest Forgotten General (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2006), 49-51.
7. Marshall Fogel. Major General Maurice Rose: The Most Decorated Battle Tank Commander in U.S. Military History, (2018), 2.