Humbert “Rocky” Versace epitomized the “Duty, Honor Country” credo of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. On October 29, 1963, during the early days of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Versace, a member of the 5th Special Forces Group, was captured by the Viet Cong. He refused to be indoctrinated by the Communists and resisted fiercely. He so enraged his captors by his insistence on adhering to the code of conduct and protesting their treatment of American POWs, that the Viet Cong executed him on September 26, 1965. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Versace was the eldest of five children. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1937. His mother was an author and one of her novels was later turned into the television series, “The Flying Nun.” His father was a colonel in the U.S. Army. Like most military families, the Versace clan moved quite frequently and Rocky grew up in Alexandria, VA, right outside of Washington, D.C.
After graduation from high school in Norfolk, VA, Versace got an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point along with his father did. He graduated in 1959 as a second lieutenant in the Armor Branch. He went to Ranger School, Class 4-60, graduating on December 18, 1959. After attending airborne school, Versace was shipped to Korea where he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 40th Armor, 1st Cavalry Division as an M-48 tank platoon leader from March 1960 to April 1961.
After being promoted to captain, Versace was then assigned to the 3d U.S. Infantry (Old Guard), the Army’s ceremonial unit known as the “Escort to the President” that is based near Washington at Ft. Myer, VA. While in Virginia Versace volunteered for duty in Vietnam and was transferred to Ft. Holabird, MD for the intelligence course and then the Vietnamese Language Course at the Presidio of Monterey in California.