Rocky Versace, Frankfurt American School '55
Died heroically as a POW in Viet
Rocky Versace (Humbert Roque Versace) attended Frankfurt
American High School in Frankfurt, Germany, during the 1953-54 school year,
a member of the class of 1955 though he actually graduated in 1955 from Norfolk
Catholic High School, which is now Catholic High
School in Virginia Beach VA. (This photograph is scanned from the 1954
Frankfurt yearbook.) He went on to graduate from the United States Military
Academy (West Point) in 1959. He joined the Special Forces (Green Berets) and
was sent to Viet Nam, where in late October 1963 he was taken prisoner at Hiep
Hoa. He was probably executed by the Viet Cong in September 1965, but his
remains have not yet been recovered (though he is not considered an MIA).
told Rocky's story much better than I can. His West
Point classmates have organized a campaign to have him posthumously awarded
the Congressional Medal of Honor, and Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-CA, not
presently in office) has spoken in his behalf in Congress. Rocky's Frankfurt
classmates have also been involved in this effort.
study for the Congressional Medal of Honor recommendation probably provides
the most detailed account of what is known about Rocky's ordeal.
The Friends of Rocky
Versace and the Friends
of Rocky Versace, Northern Virginia Group provide photographs of him and
much additional information.
His brother Steve Versace reports that "Rock will be
inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame
at Fort Benning, Georgia at Fort Benning, Georgia on October 4, 2000. The USMA
Class of 1959 has another classmate being honored that day, Robert (Tex) Turner,
a friend and classmate of Rocky."
Rocky had decided to become a Roman
Catholic missionary priest, and in fact had been accepted as a candidate by the
before his death.
A contest is being
held (in August 2000) to design a public plaza and veterans memorial in
Alexandria VA, to be named in his memory.
His fellow prisoner James N.
(Nick) Rowe wrote Five
Years to Freedom, an account of their captivity, and another book
describes the mission during which Rocky was taken prisoner.
learned of Rocky Versace from an article by Joe Condrill in the August 2000
number of Overseas Brats,, an
organization of Americans who went to high school overseas.
The name is
pronounced to rime with "face", differently from the late designer with the same
last name, though some younger members of the family have now restored the
correct Italian pronunciation ver-SAH-chay. The family also prefers to spell the
name "Rocky" as Roque, though I think they've lost that round to history!
Name: Humbert Roque "Rocky" Versace [not Humberto]
Army Special Forces
Unit: Detachment A-23, 5th Special Forces Group
(Intelligence Advisor, MAAG at Camau)
Date of Birth: 02 July 1937 (Honolulu
Home City of Record: Norfolk VA [actually Alexandria VA]
Loss Date: 29
October 1963 [date taken prisoner]
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Coordinates: 092626N 1050917E (WR170435)
Status (in 1973): Killed In
Other Personnel in
Incident: James N. Rowe (escaped 1968); Daniel L. Pitzer (released 1967); At
Hiep Hoa: Claude D. McClure; George E. Smith (released 1965); Issac Camacho
(escaped 1965); Kenneth M. Roraback (missing).
Monument Panel No. 1E - Line
This page is written by Bob Richmond, president of the Fifties chapter of
the Kaiserslautern High School Alumni
Association - we were the school right down the road from Frankfurt. (I
regret I never met Rocky in Germany.)
Bob would much prefer it if some
Eagle would take this page over!
August 16th, 2000 - update No. 2