Colonel Tom J. Rounsaville was born 23 July 1919 near Durant, Oklahoma, and grew up in Atoka, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the US Army in 1940, assigned to the 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. He was selected to Officer Candidate School in 1942.
As a 1st Lieutenant, Rounsaville was assigned to the 11th Airborne Division in the SW Pacific. Rounsaville volunteered and was selected to the Sixth Army’s new intelligence collection group called Alamo Scouts. For action on 4–5 October 1944, near Cape Oransbari, he received the Bronze Star for heroism with Scout teams that rescued 66 Dutch and Javanese held prisoner by the Japanese. From 21 November to 12 December 1944 Rounsaville would be awarded his second Bronze Star for gallantry on Masbate Island, Philippines. In January 1945 the Scouts were part of a Ranger Force that liberated 511 American and Allied prisoners of war, including survivors of the Bataan Death March, near Cabanatuan, Luzon. After a 25-mile night march, an assault was launched with all guards being killed. The prisoners were led three miles to safety, with many in poor physical condition being hand-carried. While en route, the rescuers encountered and repulsed over 800 Japanese. For their heroic actions, members of the Alamo Scouts and Ranger Force were awarded the Silver Star. The raid is memorialized in books and a movie—The Great Raid. In total, the Rounsaville team would spend 153 days behind enemy lines by the war’s end.
Rounsaville continued to serve in direct combat during the Korean War. During the Vietnam conflict, he used his knowledge of jungle warfare to design realistic stateside training. In 1966, he received the Legion of Merit Award as Chief of Staff, Joint Task Force 11, US Strike Command.
Rounsaville’s additional awards include another Silver Star, two more Bronze Stars, the Joint Service Commendation, Purple Heart, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Korean Service Medal, and Philippine Liberation Medal. In 1988 the Scouts were awarded the Special Forces Tab for their services in WW II. Rounsaville died 14 April 1999 and is buried at Fort Benning, Georgia’s Post Cemetery.