Dale and Kay Rogers first met back in December 1941, the same month that Pearl Harbor was bombed. They were both at an ice cream parlor in Salt Lake City. Dale liked Kay the first time he saw her. He thought it would be clever to get into her purse, put on some of her lipstick, and ask her for a kiss. Kay was not impressed and thought he was very strange. So much for first impressions.
A few days later, Kay came out from taking a bath and found out that she had a date with this strange young man for the upcoming New Year Eve. Dale had called the house, and after talking to him on the phone, Kay’s mom accepted a date for Kay. Kay was not happy about this, but didn’t want to be rude so decided to go on the date. Dale came to the house and noticed a picture of a fireman he knew. Kay’s father was a fireman and it turned out that he knew some of Dale’s brothers who were also firemen. While Kay’s parents thought this was wonderful, Kay was still not impressed.
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Dale eventually won Kay over because by July of 1942 they were engaged and planning on an October wedding at the bride’s home. However, with the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and the USA’s participation in the war accelerating, Dale decided that he needed to enlist in order to avoid being drafted. He chose the Marine Corps and enlisted along with a group of other LDS young men who were known as the “New (2nd?) Mormon Battalion.” He told Kay of his enlistment while they were on a picnic. She was sad about the decision, but gave him her full support.
Dale went off to San Diego for training in August. Kay went to work at the arms plant in Salt Lake. Dale’s experiences during his boot camp training had an influence on his oldest son Terry. Dale had told Terry that one of the things he was most proud of during that period was that he never quit no matter how hard the training was. Often the running was so long it seemed unbearable, but he never quit. Their wedding plans changed. After finding out that Dale was going to be shipped out to Hawaii on November 2nd, they decided to have Kay travel to San Diego so they could be married before he left. She was 18 he was 20. He had to have his mother give permission for him to be married as he was under 21.
Kay arrived in San Diego to find that Dale was not going to be allowed off base. During an inspection, a single fingerprint was found on his visor. When Kay heard that his leave had been cancelled, she became angry and demanded to talk to Dale’s commanding officer. Shortly after this conversation, Dale was allowed to leave the base.
Dale Ritchie Rogers and Kathryn Leah Higham were married October 31, 1942 at the home of a judge in San Diego, California. When they came out of the judge’s house, they couldn’t understand why there were children running up and down the street in costumes. Then they realized it was Halloween!
Dale shipped out two days later and Kay returned to Salt Lake City and continued her work at the arms plant. Dale went to Hawaii where he was involved in recovering the battleship West Virginia and getting it to Reston (Bremerton?), Washington where it would be repaired and readied to go into battle. He always said that he spent their honeymoon in Hawaii alone. They never did get the chance to go there together. After a time, Kay was able to join Dale in Washington. They lived there for one year while the repairs of the ship were completed.
The time came for Dale to go off to battle. He recalls being on the ship as it was sailing out of the harbor. He looked back to the land and saw Kay standing on a hill, waving a tablecloth she had been embroidering. That was the last time he saw her for two (Three?) years.
Dale was a field cook and also on the crew of an anti-aircraft gun. The West Virginia was involved in every major battle in the South Pacific during the war. Responding to enemy attacks required immediate action by all the crew members. A time or two Dale was at his gun shampoo in his hair and soap on his body while responding while in the shower! There is a reference in his Key Log entry about his feelings while watching the marines storm the beaches after they had been first bombarded by the ships. He often expressed that his greatest fear was that he would get orders reassigning him from the West Virginia to the infantry of the Marines. Having seen what happened when the Marines went ashore he was completely aware of the risk those men faced and the number who would not even reach the beaches. The one time the West Virginia was hit by a Kamikaze plane the impact was only a couple of gun turrets away. He expressed often how blessed he was not to have the impact on them, but how sad he was because men he knew lost their lives.
Dale was on the ship in Tokyo Bay when the armistice was signed. The significance of the West Virginia being in Tokyo Bay was that it was the only battle ship in Tokyo Bay that had been sunk at Pearl Harbor! Having been sunk at Pearl Harbor, the West Virginia was restored to live and helped to sink a nation. Kay recalls being at home when one of her brothers in law came to the house to tell her the news and take her to celebrate the end of the war with Dale’s family. Dale had three brothers who also went to war and all four returned home safely.
After the war Dale and Kay were able to begin their married life together. Dale spent six weeks in the hospital with a case of hepatitis. After being released from the hospital they moved in with his mother who was having health problems. Dale had finished a correspondence course during his time on the West Virginia and was awarded his high school diploma in 1946. He worked installing furnaces for awhile and then went to work for Young Electric Sign Company as a sheet metal worker in 1949. This remained his career for the rest of his life. Dale and Kay started a family and became of the parents of six children.
In 1962, Dale’s company transferred him to Las Vegas, Nevada. He was a hard worker and was involved in building many of the signs on the Las Vegas Strip. The Rogers family had a good life in Las Vegas. Dale was a hard worker, but also found time for other things. He was very active in his church responsibilities. He also enjoyed fishing and camping. He enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren. He started the tradition of choosing a special Christmas present just for the grandchildren to enjoy from their grandpa.
In February of 1975, Dale was admitted to the hospital with a brain tumor. It advanced quickly and he passed away at home on April 3, 1975 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is buried at Eden Vale Cemetery on Las Vegas Boulevard, not far from where a neon sign museum is being built, containing many of the signs that Dale helped build. One of the most famous signs he helped to build still waves his arm on Fremont Street in down town Las Vegas – Vegas Vic.
Dale is remembered as one of the kindest men. He never spoke ill of anyone and his strongest expressions was “Son of a Gun”. None of his children can remember him ever using a swear word. He would help anyone and gave of his time often in service to others. While the experiences of war can damage many for their life time. Dale came home from war and became a man his family will always remember and be proud of.