Bernard William Rogers was born in Fairview, Kansas, on 16 July 1921. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1943, was commissioned a second lieutenant, and attended the basic course at the Infantry School at Fort Benning. He was made a temporary first lieutenant later that year and then served with the 275th Infantry. In 1944, he married Ann Ellen Jones.
From 1944 to 1946, Rogers taught economics, government, and history at West Point. In 1945, he was made a temporary captain. After teaching at West Point, Rogers served as an aide to the High Commissioner of Austria and the commander of Sixth Army. Rogers attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, from 1947 to 1950. He received Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in philosophy, politics and economics.
In 1949, Rogers was promoted to permanent captain. Two years later, he was made a temporary major. In 1952, he graduated from the Infantry School. Then he led the 3d Battalion, 9th Infantry, in the Korean War. In 1953, he was promoted to temporary lieutenant colonel and served as an aide to the commander in chief and staff intelligence officer of the United Nations and Far East Commands until 1954. A year later, he graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. Rogers commanded the 1st Battalion, 23d Infantry from 1955 to 1956. He served as the senior aide to the Army Chief of Staff from 1958 to 1959. In 1959, he received promotions to permanent major and temporary colonel. The following year, he graduated from the Army War College. From 1961 to 1962, Rogers was the chief of staff of the 24th Division and chief of the Troop Operation Branch, Operations Division, United States Army, Europe. For the next four years, he served as an assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Rogers was made a permanent lieutenant colonel in 1964, a temporary brigadier general in 1966, and a permanent colonel in 1968. From 1966 to 1967, he served as the assistant division commander of the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam. Then, until 1969, he was the commandant of cadets at West Point. In 1970, Rogers was promoted to temporary major general; a year later his rank of brigadier general was made permanent; in 1972, he was promoted to temporary lieutenant general; in 1973, he was made a permanent major general.
From 1972 to 1974, Rogers served as the deputy chief of staff for personnel of the Army. In 1974, he was promoted to temporary general. He commanded the United States Forces Command at Fort McPherson until 1976. He served as Army Chief of Staff from 1 October 1976 to 21 June 1979. As Chief of Staff, Rogers led the Army’s transition to a 24-division, all-component force. He instituted programs designed to improve the quality of life for Army personnel. In 1979, he was made Supreme Allied Commander, North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Rogers retired from active service in 1987.