Rowland S. Dodge was born on 26 February 1895 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The family later moved to the Plum Beach section of North Kingstown, and Rowland was a 1914 graduate of Wickford High School. He entered Rhode Island State College with the class of 1918, majoring in Agriculture. He participated in the Army ROTC Program, Rho Iota Kappa fraternity, Student Council, Athletic Committee, Freshman Rules Committee, basketball, football (Captain-elect) and the Grist Board. The 1918 Grist’s comment on Dodge stated: “Our football star is a hard worker here at college, which is a great asset to one who expects to spread it broad and thick in the Aggie field.”
When the United States entered World War I, there were 562 male students enrolled at Rhode Island State College, 334 left to serve in World War I. Dodge, like so many of his classmates, left college at the beginning of his senior year to enter the United States Army and began his officer training at Plattsburg, New York in September 1917. In January 1918, he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry and immediately deployed to France.
Second Lieutenant Dodge was initially assigned as an infantry platoon leader, Company M, 101st Infantry Regiment, 26th Infantry Division. He was involved in combat operations throughout his assignment and was hospitalized in October 1918. While in the hospital, he learned that his unit was to participate in combat operations near Verdun, France. Lieutenant Dodge secured his release from the hospital and was put in command of an Infantry Task Force consisting of three Infantry rifle companies. He was at all times leading from the front, reconnoitering enemy positions and leading a counterattack against the enemy. During the period 24-28 October 1918, he led nine attacks against the enemy; and he fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire as he inspired his soldiers to vigorously engage the enemy. Lieutenant Dodge was killed in action leading his soldiers on 28 October 1918 near Verdun, France two weeks before the Armistice was signed.
For Extraordinary Heroism in Action, Second Lieutenant Rowland S. Dodge was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously).
The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded to Second Lieutenant Rowland S. Dodge, 101st Infantry for extraordinary heroism in action near Verdun, France, October 24-28, 1918. Learning of the proposed advance in which his company was to participate, although sick in the hospital, Lieutenant Dodge secured his release and joined his command. He was at all times in advance of his front line, reconnoitering the ground, thereby facilitating the advance. Leading a counterattack, he was killed by enemy rifle fire.
Second Lieutenant Rowland S. Dodge was buried with full Military Honors in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Meuse, France. In March 1919, United States Senator Jesse H. Metcalf honored Lieutenant Dodge by dedicating the “Rowland S. Dodge Square” in Pawtucket, Rhode Island at the corner of Mineral Spring Avenue and Woodward Road. Lieutenant Dodge is a true hero who answered the call to service during the “Great War” and gave his life in service to Rhode Island and America.