Charles Alphonse Rusconi was born in Switzerland, on May 13, 1918, to a italian family.
In 1936, aged 18, he joined the 10th Senegalese infantry regiment. He was a strong thickset boy with well developed manly features. Three years later, when the Second World War broke out, he was a sergeant. Having volunteered to join the Corps Franc, he became the leader of a commando which operated in the rear of the German troops. That’s how in May 1940, he rescued a wounded officer behind enemy lines by dispersing the enemies with a grenade and hauling him away on his shoulders.
Largely outclassed by the German offensive, in terms of equipment and weapons, the French army was obliged to withdraw, but Sergeant Rusconi was one of those who wouldn’t throw in the towel. On June 2, 1940, he besieged an enemy command post, captured seventy soldiers and officers and seized heavy armament as well as archives of the division. After this remarkable feat, Sergeant Rusconi relentlessly continued his retarding operations till June 26, when he was wounded by a burst from a machinegun. Captured by German troops, he was administered treatment. But two months later, upon recovery, he escaped.
In February 1948, at his request, Lieutenant Rusconi was sent to Indochina. He formed a commando made up of Senegalese and Vietnamese to carry out operations along the left bank of the Red River. The efficiency of this commando was equal to that of Warrant Officer Vandenberghe’s Red Tigers commando which operated on the other bank of the river. This small composite unit, characterized by a spirit of emulation, inflicted heavy losses on the Viet Minh through continuous hit-and-run raids and ambushes. Thanks to these exploits, relative peace returned to the province.
Having successfully accomplished this mission, Commando Rusconi was assigned to carry out operations along the banks of the Day River (Nghia Lo), where he resumed his incursions into zones held by the Viet Minh. He once again recorded new acts of bravery with impressive results in terms of enemies captured and weapons seized. But in the night of February 6 breaking 7, 1952, the commando was betrayed. While asleep in their post, they were caught off guard by about a hundred Viet Minh combatants who had sneaked in, and it was a total massacre. Most of the men were killed before they could even locate their triggers. A few survivors fought to exhaustion with edged weapons. Lieutenant Rusconi, with a pistol in his hand, tried to resist, but was sent crashing to the ground by bullets. He died instantly without moaning.
Aged thirty at death, Lieutenant Charles Alphonse Rusconi, an exemplary commando leader and an outstanding soldier, was Officer of the Legion of Honour and holder of the TOE war cross with bars, which was awarded him by General de Lattre de Tassigny. He was wounded four times and commended ten times, six of which were in the Army Order.