[ Show ]
Support VoyForums
[ Shrink ]
VoyForums Announcement: Programming and providing support for this service has been a labor of love since 1997. We are one of the few services online who values our users' privacy, and have never sold your information. We have even fought hard to defend your privacy in legal cases; however, we've done it with almost no financial support -- paying out of pocket to continue providing the service. Due to the issues imposed on us by advertisers, we also stopped hosting most ads on the forums many years ago. We hope you appreciate our efforts.

Show your support by donating any amount. (Note: We are still technically a for-profit company, so your contribution is not tax-deductible.) PayPal Acct: Feedback:

Donate to VoyForums (PayPal):

Login ] [ Contact Forum Admin ] [ Main index ] [ Post a new message ] [ Search | Check update time | Archives: 123456[7]8910 ]
Subject: Richard Rocco, Medal of Honor Recipient

Dead at 63
[ Next Thread | Previous Thread | Next Message | Previous Message ]
Date Posted: November 06, 2002 1:08:11 EDT

Richard Rocco, an Army medic in the Vietnam War who received the Medal of Honor for rescuing severely wounded fellow crewmen from the wreckage of a downed helicopter under enemy fire, died on Thursday at his home in San Antonio. He was 63.

The cause was cancer, his wife, Maria, said.

On May 24, 1970, Mr. Rocco, a sergeant, was aboard a medical evacuation helicopter that was shot down on a mission to remove wounded South Vietnamese troops besieged near the village of Katum.

"We started taking fire from all directions," he recalled in a 1998 interview with The American Forces Information Service. "The pilot was shot through the leg. The helicopter spun around and crashed in an open field, turned on its side and started burning. The co-pilot's arm was ripped off it was just hanging."

Mr. Rocco suffered back injuries, a broken hip and a broken wrist, and the other four crew members were shot.

"I guess I was going on reflexes," he said. "I jumped out and pulled the pilot out first. I looked for cover and saw a big tree lying on the ground. I dragged him to the tree, knowing that any time I was going to get shot."

Mr. Rocco went back to the helicopter and carried the co-pilot, the crew chief and another medic to cover, one at a time, crossing 20 yards of open ground under a hail of fire, his hands and face burned by flames engulfing the helicopter.

The next day, two American helicopters were shot down trying to evacuate the crewmen, who had called in artillery and air strikes on their own position to turn back an assault by North Vietnamese troops. But all five crew members were rescued on that second day. "They didn't have time for litters or anything else," Mr. Rocco recalled. "They just threw us into the helicopter and took off."

The commander of the First Cavalry Division visited Mr. Rocco at a hospital and told him he had been recommended for the Medal of Honor. But he heard nothing more about that until 1974, when he was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., and was told he would receive the medal, the nation's highest award for valor.

Mr. Rocco had not known that the co-pilot he saved, Lt. Lee Caubarreaux, had been lobbying in his behalf.

In March 1971, while Mr. Caubarreaux was preparing for a medical retirement in Texas, the Medal of Honor recommendation was mailed to him by a warrant officer in the First Cavalry Division awards office in South Vietnam who had found it in a desk drawer.

Mr. Caubarreaux appealed to Army authorities to approve the award, then recounted Mr. Rocco's exploits to Senator Russell Long of Louisiana, Mr. Caubarreaux's home state. Those efforts finally prevailed when President Gerald R. Ford presented the Medal of Honor to Mr. Rocco on Dec. 12, 1974.

Richard Rocco receiving his medal from President Gerald R. Ford

Louis Richard Rocco, a native of Albuquerque, retired from the Army as a chief warrant officer in 1978 after 22 years of military service. He re-enlisted in 1991, in the Persian Gulf war, and spent six months at Fort Sam Houston, Tex., recruiting medical personnel.

Mr. Rocco worked extensively as a veterans counselor. He also spoke to schoolchildren about drug abuse on behalf of Vietnam Veterans of America.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Rocco is survived by his sons Roy, of Simi Valley, Calif., and Brian, of San Diego; a daughter, Theresa DuBois of Carson City, Nev.; his mother, Lita Rocco, of Hemet, Calif.; a brother, Clyde, of San Antonio; four sisters, Sandra Schmidt and Gayle Rocco, both of Hemet, Mary Rocco of San Jacinto, Calif., and Diane Calderon of Las Vegas; and five grandchildren.

Mr. Caubarreaux, the helicopter co-pilot, his shattered arm having been saved by doctors, told The American Forces Information Service in 1998 that if not for Mr. Rocco, "we would have burned to death in the helicopter."

"I can't screw in a light bulb with my arm," Mr. Caubarreaux said, "but I can still hug my wife."

[ Next Thread | Previous Thread | Next Message | Previous Message ]

[ Contact Forum Admin ]

Forum timezone: GMT-5
VF Version: 3.00b, ConfDB:
Before posting please read our privacy policy.
VoyForums(tm) is a Free Service from Voyager Info-Systems.
Copyright © 1998-2019 Voyager Info-Systems. All Rights Reserved.