WWII vet, Warden Milton Roth marches at the head of a DOC contingent in a parade in the above undated photo.
DOC's 1st Veterans Day Parade: Nov. 11, 2011.
Warden Roth would have loved to have taken part in it.

On Nov. 12, 2004, Heidi Roth, revisited Rikers where her father had been warden of the NYC Reformatory in the 1960s. With her was her son, then a teenager.

Their NYCHS escort accepted, on behalf of the society, the family's memorial album of Milton Roth photos, clippings and other memorabilia from his 35-year career with NYC DOC and his more than two decades with the Army and Army Reserves.

Kept in the archives at the NYC Correction Academy, some materials from it have been scanned for use in this presentation. Heidi has helped provide additional information to accompany the images on and accessed from this 2011 web page.

NYCHS appreciates the Roth family's continued assistance in preserving the history in which Milton Roth played meaningful part for long long.

On the morning of Oct. 18th, 2011, NYC Correction Commissioner Dora B. Schriro announced that the Department would participate in the city's Veterans Day Parade for the first time since the national holiday was initiated 92 years ago.

From archives album photo:
Milton Roth in his Army WWII uniform. Photo comment by Heidi Roth:"This photo was taken shortly after he completed training at the Adjutant General School, before he left for Japan."
It began in 1919 as Armistice Day to mark the anniversary of the end of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

In subsequent decades, that brought with them more wars, the observance evolved into Veterans Day to honor those who served in all military conflicts involving U.S. forces, past and current.

In all those years and conflicts, NY correctional staffers -- uniformed and civilian, state, city, and county, totaling hundreds of thousands, if not millions -- put on U.S. military uniforms to serve their country.

Those who survived did not and do not ever forget those who did not return.

For these veterans, their day is an opportunity to remember their fallen comrades in a special way.

From archives album photo:
Emperor Hirohito, left, and Capt. Milton Roth, right, who served as military governor of a province in Japan during the post-WWII Occupation. Photo comment by Heidi Roth: "Unfortunately I donít know any background details of this truly amazing photograph other than it was taken after March of 1946. Our family efforts to identify my fatherís commanding officer, the heavier officer standing immediately next to the Emperor, have been unsuccessful. As can be seen it was taken in a cabbage patch. My mother always referred to this as the 'Cabbages & King' picture."

Click to enlarge. Use browser "back" button to return.

Among DOCers of the past who would have welcomed the chance to march with a Correction contingent in a Veterans Day Parade must be counted Warden Milton Roth.

He would have hailed Commissioner Schriro's announcement.

Her teletype-styled (all caps) message transmitted throughout all the agency's facilities read, in part:

"ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011, THE 92ND ANNUAL VETERANS DAY PARADE WILL BE HELD IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK.

"THIS YEARíS PARADE WILL RECOGNIZE THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF PEARL HARBOR, THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF VIETNAM AND THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11.

"THIS YEAR WILL ALSO BE THE FIRST TIME THAT THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION IS PARTICIPATING IN THE PARADE.

"IT IS AN EXCEPTIONAL OPPORTUNITY TO HONOR OF OUR NATIONíS MILITARY PERSONNEL, THE MORE THAN 800 DEPARTMENT MEMBERS WHO SERVE OR HAVE SERVED IN EVERY BRANCH OF THE ARMED FORCES, AND OUR STAFF WITH FAMILY MEMBERS THAT HAVE OR ARE CURRENTLY SERVING."

The rest of the message told uniformed and civilian staff -- particularly those who have served in the armed forces or are in the reserves or have family members in service -- whom to contact about arrangements if interested in marching with the DOC contingent.

Had he such a chance during his era with DOC, he surely would have done so.

From archives album photo:
Capt. Milton Roth seated front and center with Japanese staff. Photo comment by Heidi Roth: "During the Occupation, my father served as Military Governor of the Prefecture of Chiba in Japan. This is him with his civilian staff outside their office in Chiba. " Click to see full staff photo of 50+. Use browser "back" button to return.
Warden Milton Roth, in his 35th year with NYC DOC, died suddenly of a heart attack Election Day Nov. 5, 1968, after collapsing while walking at 49th St. and 10th Ave., Manhattan. He was 61.

Eleven months earlier the then Commissioner, George F. McGrath, had promoted him to the rank of warden at the Rikers Island Reformatory where Roth served as Deputy-Warden-in-Command (DWIC, pronounced Dee-Wick) from Dec. 5, 1963 until the full title appointment.

Roth joined the Department Sept. 16, 1933, as a psychologist. Five years later he filed for the position of Correction Officer and was appointed in 1938.

To appreciate the career move from psychologist to Correction Officer, one needs bear in mind that

  • (a) the C.O. position offered the prospect of more in the way of job security, benefits and advancement as a civil service uniformed agency post and
  • (b) that the U.S. economy in the late 1930s was still staggering along in the Great Depression.

Career calculations can carry a person just so far; then one day the larger world comes crashing in and sweeps aside all the well-conceived plans carefully crafted by individuals who seek to chart their future. For many millions of Americans such was Dec. 7, 1941, a day that FDR predicted "would live in infamy" and has.

From archives album photo:
Capt. Milton Roth, second right, and his Army colleagues engage in a social visit with some Japanese staffers and their family members. Click to enlarge. Use browser "back" button to return.
"My father enlisted in the U.S. Army on Jan. 13, 1943 at the age of 35.

"At that time, he had been with the Department of Correction for almost 10 years, beginning as a professional psychologist," Heidi Roth told NYCHS.

"He had earned his bachelor's degree from Fordham University, and then obtained his masterís degree from Columbia University, where he also began working on his doctorate.

"He started in the Army [Military Intelligence] as Second Lieutenant, then First Lieutenant, and was honorably discharged in December of 1948 as Captain.

"He studied at the military language school in Monterey, CA, where he learned Japanese fluently.

"He was eventually sent to Japan in November 1945, where he stayed until 1948.

"He met my mother, Florence, in Tokyo where she was stationed with the Womenís Army Corps (WACs). They married after returning to the states in October of 1948."

The archived Roth album contains several diplomas and certificates. Among them a dipolma from the Adjutant General's School, Fort Washington, Maryland. It reads:

From archives album photo:
Another photo of Capt. Milton Roth, second right, and his Army colleagues engaging in a social visit with some Japanese staffers and their family members. Click to enlarge. Use browser "back" button to return.
"This is to certify that Second Lieutenant Milton Roth, A.S.G., has diligently pursued and successfully completed the Classification Course, Student Officers School, 12 June to 4 August, 1943. Appropriate notation of such accomplishment has been entered on his record."

The parchment is signed by the school's commandant and director of training, both colonels, and the school's secretary, a captain. [Click to see. Use browser's "back" button to return.]

Another archived Roth album item is his Army captaincy appointment certificate. It reads, in part:

"Know Ye, that reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism valor, fidelity and abilities of Milton Roth I do appoint him Captain, Adjutant General's Department in the Army of the United States, such appointment to date from the twentith day of June nineteen hundred and forty-seven. . . .

"Done at the City of Washington, this fifth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand`and forty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-second year, by the President."

It is signed by the Adjutant General. [Click to see. Use browser's "back" button to return.]

From archives album photo:
Capt. Milton Roth, left, with fellow Army Reservists. Click to enlarge. Use browser "back" button to return.
Sometime after his "return to the States" from service in Japan and after his return to civilian status in the late 1940s, Roth again donned uniforms -- those of DOC and the Army Reserves.

A few of the certificates in the archived Roth album relate to his continued military service. One of these is his appointment as captain. It reads, in part:

"Know Ye, that reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism valor, fidelity and abilities of Milton Roth I do appoint him as a Reserve Commissioned Officer, Officers' Reserve Corps in the Army of the United States, in the grade of Captain, to date as such from the eighth day of December nineteen hundred and fifty-two. . . .

"Done at the City of Washington, this eighth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand`and fifty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-seventh year, by the President."

From archives album photo:
This image of Army Reserves Officer Milton Roth was extracted from larger photo of more than 50 reservists. Click for full view. Use browser "back" button to return.
It is signed by Secretary of the Army Frank Pace Jr. [Click to see. Use browser's "back" button to return.]

Another of the certificates in the archived Roth album related to his continued military service is his appointment as major. It reads, in part:

"Know Ye, that reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism valor, fidelity and abilities of Milton Roth I do appoint him as a Reserve Commissioned Officer in the grade of Major in the Army of the United States, to date as such from the twenty-first day of September nineteen hundred and fifty-six. . . .

"Done at the City of Washington, this twenty-first day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand`and fifty-six and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-first year, by the President."

From archives album photo:
Milton Roth in his Army WWII uniform. Photo comment by Heidi Roth:"This photo was taken after my father completed the Adjutantís General School in August of 1943."
It is signed by Secretary of the Army Wilbur M. Brucker. [Click to see. Use browser's "back" button to return.]

The third post-WWII military service document in the archived Roth album is his retirement certificate . It reads, in part:

"This is to certify that Lieutenant Colonel Milton Roth 01 001 453, having served faithfully and honorably, was retired from the United States Army on the first day of January One Thousand Nine Hundred and Sixty-Eight;"

It is signed by Army Adjutant General Kenneth G. Wickham. [Click to see. Use browser's "back" button to return.]

That the 35-year-old enlistee with Roth's background -- Ph.D. candidate/psychologist-turned-C.O. -- was packed off in 1943, not to a combat zone, but to the Army's officer training school to learn the language and ways of Japan in preparation for the occupation of that country is hardly surprising.

From archives album photo:
Mayor John V. Lindsay congratulates Milton Roth after the latter's swearing-in as warden. For fuller image with Roth's daughter, wife and then Commissioner George McGrath. Use browser's "back" to return.
"My father was sent to the Adjutantís General School very early in his army career, based on his professional experience as a psychologist, and also because of his exceptional educational background.

"He had begun his undergraduate studies at Fordham at the age of 14.

"Then three years later, after receiving his Bachelorís Degree, he began his graduate studies at Columbia University at age 17.

"Prior to his assignment in Japan, my fatherís army training required him to learn the Japanese language, as well as the Japanese culture.

"He was assigned to General Douglas MacArthur's Military Government Team in Japan in 1945, and remained there until February of 1948.

"He was honorably discharged as Captain on May 28, 1948.

"I know that my dad and my mom were in San Francisco briefly after leaving Japan, and then went to New York where they married.

"My mother Florence returned to school on the GI bill.

"Based on my mother's papers, I believe my dad also finished his PhD at Columbia.

"He then returned to the Department of Correction and joined the Army Reserves in the early 1950s, eventually retiring from military service on Jan. 1, 1968 as Lieutenant Colonel."


Milton Roth, sole warden promotee at the Dec. 1967 promotion ceremonies in City Hall, stands with follow DOC officers to be sworn.

*** *** ***

To Milton Roth: Psychologist & Warden posted on site in 2004.

WEBMASTER NOTE: The reader is invited to ponder the situation in which the relatively few U. S. Army officers, like Roth, operated as they administered the military Occupation of Japan immediately after its surrender and in subsequent weeks and months. They worked -- many only lightly armed, if at all -- surrounded by millions who, at least on paper, had been considered "enemies" not long before. Now mull the situation of Correction personnel working unarmed among the inmate population. Certainly the characters of the two populations are quite different and not to be compared. But cannot the character of those serving in both situations be compared? Is not the valor shown by the Occupation administrators and by Correction personnel in their respective situations somewhat akin? Milton Roth served in both situations with honor and distinction. He would have loved to be with a DOC contingent marching in a Veterans Day Parade. Perhaps he is . . . . in spirit.

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