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Korean War Casualty: Roger B. Cote (1930-1950)

Roger B. Cote recognition plaquePhotograph of Roger B. Cote recognition plaque, located in Manchester NH at the corners of Massabesic Street and Valley Street. Copyright of Martin Miccio for the City of Manchester, and used here with permission.

In March of 1951, Mayor Josaphat T. Benoit and Board of Alderman passed an ordinance, as follows: “That the Square located in East Manchester where Valley Street and Massabesic Street intersects, be officially designated and known on all official records and maps of the City of Manchester as “Roger B. Cote Square.” A metal sign was created as part of the ongoing “Military Squares” recognition. On June 17, 1951 the marker was placed, and a city-sponsored ceremony held with family present.

The sign reads: “PFC ROGER B. COTE. Born August 4, 1930. Killed in Korea Sept 1, 1950.” I have been honored to be able to speak with members of Roger’s family who still live in the Manchester area, who gave me additional insight into Roger’s life and death. I would like to especially thank Roger’s sister Rita Brunelle who provided me with his photograph, and his brother Arnold and cousin Raymond Cote for sharing remembrances.

young-looking Roger Bertrand CotePhotograph of a young-looking Roger Bertrand Cote. Copyright of his sister, Rita Brunelle. Used here with her permission.

Roger Bertrand Cote, son of William & Nelsie (Lemay) Cote, was born on 4 August 1930 in Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. He was the fourth born, and eventually one of nine children. His sister Rita says that Roger enjoyed playing the guitar and singing. Roger graduated from Saint Anthony Grammar School, followed by two years at St. Joseph High School on Lowell Street.

In 1942 tragedy struck the Cote family, their mother Nelsie died on 9 August 1942 at Sacred Heart Hospital in Manchester NH, of lukemia. She was only age 37 yrs old. Roger’s father William was unable to care for his large family and still work, so the four youngest in the family were placed in St. Peter’s orphanage. In 1944 William remarried. In 1947, age the age of 17, Roger’s father William (a veteran of World War I who continued to feel the effects of being shot and gassed), signed for him to enter the regular army. All of Roger’s brothers eventually served in the military.

His sister related to me that Roger had completed his tour of duty, when his tour was extended. He was sent to serve in South Korea, as a Field Artillery Cannoneer, assigned to the 8th Field Artillery Battalion (105MM), 25th Infantry Division. It is known that Roger B. Cote was killed in action (KIA) on September 1, 1950. His sister states that he received a “machine gun bullet through the head” near Masan, South Korea, during combat. Roger had turned twenty a month before. His death “broke his father’s heart.”

Roger’s body was retrieved and returned home to his family for burial, and placed beside his mother at Mount Calvary Cemetery. Private First Class Cote was awarded the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

Posted on 1 May, 2014 by Janice Brown