Rosario honored for his work to recognize LJ military hero

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By Alex Wimsatt

SHEPHERDSVILLE – Jose Rosario has spent more than two years collaborating with the Bullitt County History Museum to find out more about the local men and women who have served in the U.S. military.

His goal is simple—to make sure these Bullitt Countians receive the honor and recognition they deserve.

When he began his research in 2008 he stumbled across the name of Private Henry B. Mattingly.

Rosario discovered that Mattingly had received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Abraham Lincoln for his service during the Civil War and was later interred in the Lebanon Junction Cemetery upon his death in 1893.

Soon after Rosario began researching Mattingly’s military service he found that the gravestone marking Mattingly’s remains was missing an inscription identifying him as a Medal of Honor recipient.

Appalled by the oversight, Rosario set to work to make sure the veteran received the proper acknowledgment for his decorated service.

After two years of working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Fort Knox, Mattingly’s descendents, the Bullitt County History Museum, the folks of Lebanon Junction and countless others, Mattingly’s grave was finally marked with the Medal of Honor inscription.

Soon after the inscription was placed, a special memorial service was held at the Lebanon Junction Cemetery in May.

Without Rosario’s efforts, Mattingly might never have received the proper recognition. For his work Rosario was recently bestowed a 2010 Kentucky History Award by the Kentucky Historical Society.

The award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of Kentucky history, was presented to Rosario during the 2010 Kentucky History Celebration on Nov. 5 at the Old State Capitol in Frankfort.

“It was great,” Rosario said. “Not for me, but for the Bullitt County History Museum. This was really a team effort.”

Rosario said his award win would not have been possible if not for the Bullitt County History Museum, particularly museum director David Strange and volunteer Judy Richardson.

As a retired U.S. Army sergeant major, Rosario said it was shameful that Mattingly’s headstone did not bear the Medal of Honor inscription until this year.

“The government should be ashamed for letting it go so long without it,” he said.

“I wanted to make sure that he received the recognition that so many had ignored…For his family and for his country.”

As a lifelong lover of history, Rosario began volunteering with the history museum nearly three years ago.

Since then his research has focused primarily on military history and those from Bullitt County who have served in the armed forces.

Rosario’s primary goal has been preserving Bullitt County’s rich history and sharing it with as many people as he could. 

“I hope that the people realize the tremendous history we have here,” he said.

“You don’t have to go outside of the county to find history.”

Rosario said much of Bullitt County’s past has been forgotten and he’s made it his mission to ensure that all the Bullitt Countians who have served their country were not forgotten, putting out a call to action to all the local officials and everyone living in the county.

“It is my strong belief that they have been neglected. I don’t think Bullitt County has a single street or building named in honor of a soldier,” he said.

“It is time for Bullitt County officials to name some of these buildings on behalf of the soldiers who gave their lives to this county and this country.”

Rosario has been a Bullitt County resident since 2007. Before that he lived in Elizabethtown where he had lived since his retirement from the U.S. Army in 2000.

Rosario’s military career began when he was drafted to serve in the Army during the Vietnam War in 1966.

In 1970 he returned home to San Juan, Puerto Rico where he went to college at the Institute of Technology. After receiving his degree he worked for the commonwealth’s Department of Labor and in 1978 he returned to military service. 

Sergeant Major Rosario served in the U.S. Army continuously from 1978 until his retirement in 2000.

He is a member of Trinity Life Center church in Shepherdsville and in his spare time he enjoys golfing and reading books about history.

Rosario lives in Shepherdsville with his wife Ramona. They have two sons, Anthony and Joey and a daughter, Andrea.