Rocky Versace, Frankfurt American School '55

Died heroically as a POW in Viet Nam

[rocky versace at frankfurt 1954.] 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).

Others have 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.

The staff 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 Maryknoll Missioners 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.

I first 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]
Rank/Branch: O3/US Army Special Forces
Unit: Detachment A-23, 5th Special Forces Group (Intelligence Advisor, MAAG at Camau)
Date of Birth: 02 July 1937 (Honolulu HI)
Home City of Record: Norfolk VA [actually Alexandria VA]
Loss Date: 29 October 1963 [date taken prisoner]
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 092626N 1050917E (WR170435)
Status (in 1973): Killed In Captivity
Category: 1
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
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 No. 33

[viet nam campaign ribbon].

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 Frankfurt Eagle would take this page over!

August 16th, 2000 - update No. 2