Touch The Wall Fingers touching James W Herrick Jr's name on the Wall

Humberto Roque "Rocky" Versace, MOH


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Why I volunteer centers around my two current MIA's, James Herrick and Humberto "Rocky" Versace.

Humberto Roque "Rocky" Versace, Medal of Honor recipient, photograph from the P.O.W. NETWORK biographies

Rank/Branch: O3/US Army Special Forces
Unit: Detachment A-23, 5th Special Forces Group
(Intelligence Advisor, MAAG at Camau)
Loss Date: 29 October 1963
Country of Loss: South Vietnam

From The Moving Wall panel printed from my database - click to enlarge The Moving Wall panel- click to enlarge

White Pine's
American Legion ceiling tile - click to enlarge

During the 25th Anniversary celebration of The Moving Wall opening ceremony, the keynote speaker was Col James Dougovito who spoke of his family friend, Humberto Roque "Rocky" Versace. I stood there flabbergasted, holding my bracelet and saying to Gary -- he is talking about my MIA. After the ceremony, I went over to speak with the Colonel and we exchanged a few stories. I would like to share his newspaper article but have not as yet received permission and unfortunately they do not have an online site). I do have permission to use his American Legion ceiling tile.

Rocky was born on July 2, 1937 in Honolulu, HI. He recorded his Home City of Record as Norfolk VA. Rocky graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1959 and had planned to enter the priesthood after his military service. (FYI: His name has been listed as both Humberto and Humbert)

On November 11, 2000, the city of Alexandria Virginia announced a proposed memorial to Humbert and 61 other Alexandria residents who died in Vietnam conflict. The "Rocky Versace Plaza and Vietnam Veterans Memorial" would be built with public tax-deductible fund donations. Dave Eberhart, Stars and Stripes Veterans Affairs Editor, reported that the overall design for the memorial is a circular plaza 65 feet in diameter. Antonio Tobias Mendez, Maryland sculptor winner of the design competition, described the plaza as a semicircular limestone bench embracing the plaza.

Also engraved on the back of the bench is Alexandria's 61 Vietnam veterans. Above their names and service branch will be hand carved gold stars coated with gold leaf. Centered in the plaza is the smiling bronze figure of "Rocky" embraced by two Vietnamese children who is returning Rocky's joy. Rocky is in military fatigues and is standing at peace without any weaponry. An inscription hand-carved in marble will read: "Dedicated to Captain Humbert Roque 'Rocky' Versace, a kid from the neighborhood who had the faith and never gave in."

Dave Eberhart, Stars and Stripes Veterans Affairs Editor, reported in an unprecedented development, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, General James L. Jones added to the prestige of his office to bestow the Medal of Honor. After the Army downgraded his first nomination to a posthumous Silver Star, colleagues nominated him for the Medal of Honor in late 1969. The Friends of Rocky Versace lobbied in support of the Medal of Honor. The letter reads:

"(Captain Versace) was captured by the Viet Cong and held as a prisoner for nearly two years. Throughout his captivity he vehemently rejected his captors' indoctrination efforts and attempts to escape for times. Despite brutal physical and mental abuse to which he was subjected, he never lost his will to resist. His focused determination so confounded his captors that they executed him in September 1965.

His absolute adherence to the West Point Creed of 'Duty, Honor, Country' provided an inspiration example to his fellow prisoners. Furthermore his heroic determination to resist reflected an extraordinary amount of valor and conspicuous personal sacrifice."

So on May 1, 2002, President George W. Bush presented to Steven Versace his brother's posthumously Medal of Honor at a ceremony at the Special Operations Forces Memorial at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. As reported by George Coryell, of the The Tampa Tribune. Captain Versace name will join those names already on the MacDill memorial which names 30 special operators killed in action or training since the terrorist attacks of September 11.

In July 1999, Nancy Pasternack, Sarasota Hearld Tribune reported that Major General Kenneth R. Bowra, Medal of Honor recipient Franklin D. Miller and retired Army Lt. General Howard Crowell visited Tere (sic) Rios Versace presenting Mrs. Versace with a Special Forces patch and unit membership certificate. Rocky's father, a career Army man died of cancer shortly after the Silver Star presentation in 1970. However, it was announced the passing of Teri Rios Versace, mother of POW Humberto "Rocky" Versace and services were held at Arlington National Cemetery on November 12, 1999 where Rocky's father is also buried.

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page 1- click to enlarge

"Soldier's mother to accept honor"

Permission granted by Nancy Pasterneck, with photographer Mike Lang, for the two-day interviews with Mrs. Tere Rios Versace

Sarasota Herald Tribune, July 1999

page 2- click to enlarge

"Soldier's mother to accept honor"
Page 2

page 1- click to enlarge

"Ceremony honors a fallen soldier, and a mother remembers her son"

Permission granted by Nancy Pasterneck, with photographer Mike Lang, for the two-day interviews with Mrs. Tere Rios Versace

Sarasota Herald Tribune, July 1999

page 2- click to enlarge

"Ceremony honors a fallen soldier, and a mother remembers her son"
Page 2 Note left - Madison Wisconsin On the third day that I volunteered at The Moving Wall in Madison Wisconsin, I walked the entire Wall which I try to do every morning and every night. Normally I do not have my camera with me but for some reason I did that morning. Right at the apex I saw a note with a flower attached and it was there in rememberance of Rocky. For anyone who wears Rocky's bracelet, I want to share this momento with you. It reads" Rocky Versace, that we all could be as good as you."

These are various websites that are specific to Rocky:

www.mishalov.com/Versace.html
www.asomf.org/museum_cmoh2.htm
www.arlingtoncemetery.net/hrversace.htm
www.pownetwork.org/bios/v/v017.htm

Permission to use some information on Humberto Versace was granted by Mary and Chuck Schantag, of the P.O.W. NETWORK

My MIAs - James Herrick
My MIAs - Bracelets of my MIA's and POW's


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