Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat — Vietnam veteran Billy Joe Rogers stands on the balcony of his room at the VUE Hotel with his son William, his wife Joan and his niece Brenda Nettles. Rogers came to Natchez to watch the Fourth of July fireworks show.
Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat — Vietnam veteran Billy Joe Rogers stands on the balcony of his room at the VUE Hotel with his son William, his wife Joan and his niece Brenda Nettles. Rogers came to Natchez to watch the Fourth of July fireworks show.

Fireworks, family help veteran on Fourth of July

Published 12:12am Saturday, July 5, 2014

By Chase Ladner

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Fourth of July is a sober affair for Marine and Vietnam veteran Billy Joe Rogers.

Rogers came with his wife and son from their home in Livingston, La., to see the fireworks display in Natchez Friday.

Rogers is originally from Woodville, and moved to Natchez in the 1950s.

He said he was too young, too small and too short to actually join the Marines, but they let him through in 1963.

“He was a hooligan back then,” said Joan Rogers, Billy Joe’s wife of 39 years. “He lied about his age to get into the Marines.”

The Marines were not as strict during Vietnam, Rogers said.

“When people ask me why I joined the Marines I say ‘Somebody had to do it,’” Rogers said.

He served in Vietnam for three years before being shot in the arm, chest and back. He was presumed dead by doctors when they found him on Nov. 21, 1966.

“You remember being killed,” Rogers said. “You remember it.”

Rogers was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the Vietnam Service Metal, the National Defense Service Metal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and the M14 Marksman Badge after his honorable discharge in 1966.

“The Veterans need everything they can get,” said Joan.

To Rogers, the Fourth of July was just another day, but the explosions in the sky over the Mississippi River made the day move along a little easier.