Today’s Badass: Humbert “Rocky” Versace, O-3, U. S. Army, Special Forces
Rocky Versace was born on July 2, 1937, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1955, and graduated with a commission as a 2LT of Armor on June 3, 1959. Versace attended the Armor Officer Basic Course from August to October 1959, and then Ranger School from October to December 1959. He served as a Medium Tank Platoon Leader with the 3rd Battalion, 40th Armor, in South Korea from March 1960 to April 1961, and then as a Tank Platoon Leader with Headquarters 3rd Infantry at Fort Myer, Virginia, from May 1961 to December 1962. Lt Versace next completed the Military Assistance Institute Course, the Intelligence Course at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, and Language School before serving as an Intelligence Advisor to the Republic of Vietnam from May 1962 until he was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War while serving with Advisory Team 70 on October 29, 1963. Capt Versace was held until September 26, 1965, when he was executed by the Viet Cong. His remains have never been returned.
His Medal of Honor Citation reads:
Captain Humbert R. Versace distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period of 29 October 1963 to 26 September 1965, while serving as S-2 Advisor, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Detachment 52, Ca Mau, Republic of Vietnam. While accompanying a Civilian Irregular Defense Group patrol engaged in combat operations in Thoi Binh District, An Xuyen Province, Captain Versace and the patrol came under sudden and intense mortar, automatic weapons, and small arms fire from elements of a heavily armed enemy battalion. As the battle raged, Captain Versace, although severely wounded in the knee and back by hostile fire, fought valiantly and continued to engage enemy targets. Weakened by his wounds and fatigued by the fierce firefight, Captain Versace stubbornly resisted capture by the over-powering Viet Cong force with the last full measure of his strength and ammunition. Taken prisoner by the Viet Cong, he exemplified the tenets of the Code of Conduct from the time he entered into Prisoner of War status. Captain Versace assumed command of his fellow American soldiers, scorned the enemy’s exhaustive interrogation and indoctrination efforts, and made three unsuccessful attempts to escape, despite his weakened condition which was brought about by his wounds and the extreme privation and hardships he was forced to endure. During his captivity, Captain Versace was segregated in an isolated prisoner of war cage, manacled in irons for prolonged periods of time, and placed on extremely reduced ration. The enemy was unable to break his indomitable will, his faith in God, and his trust in the United States of America. Captain Versace, an American fighting man who epitomized the principles of his country and the Code of Conduct, was executed by the Viet Cong on 26 September 1965. Captain Versace’s gallant actions in close contact with an enemy force and unyielding courage and bravery while a prisoner of war are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect the utmost credit upon himself and the United States Army.