Sunday, July 19, 2015

Virginia XI

Alexandria is a suburb of Washington D.C. and is rich with it's own history since before the American Revolution. Its taverns and pubs, some of which are still in operation today were often the meeting places and idea generators that led to our own independence.

Many will see the connection, then, between this famous city and the desire for and movement towards independence of South Vietnam.

The memorial, here, honors those from Alexandria who died in the pursuit of that dream: 67, in all.

Prominent, here, is a statue of Humbert Roque "Rocky" Versace, a Green Beret Captain captured two weeks before he rotated home.

While in captivity, he went out of his way to be uncooperative and scornful of his captors. He refused to answer questions and insulted them at every opportunity. One can well imagine how well that went over and how his treatment deteriorated and the price he paid. In addition, with three untreated bullet wounds, he tried to escape 3 times.

He was, eventually, separated from all other prisoners and the last time anyone heard from him, he was signing God Bless America at the top of is lungs. For all of this, he was executed on September 26th, 1965, after nearly two years in captivity. His body has never been located, he lies somewhere, known only to God, in the jungles of Vietnam.

His friends and comrades remembered him and his bravery and told the stories that, eventually, led to his being awarded a Medal of Honor quite some years later. The MOH and all of his awards are on display in the foyer of the community center. I will feature some of those in a future post.

He spoke of leaving the military upon his return home, entering the seminary to become a Maryknoll priest and returning to work with orphans in Vietnam. He was well known for his  efforts in behalf of the children in 'Nam.

He is the only POW to receive a n MOH for his efforts as a POW.
Next time, on the 24th, we will revisit Arizona . So, join me there, as always, at 9:00am.

To see additional memorials from Virginia, or any other state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.

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