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Posted: 7/3/2002 10:14:42 AM EDT
[url]http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/710348/posts[/url] Versace was on his second tour-of-duty in Vietnam Ñ and just a couple of weeks from entering the Maryknoll order to begin his formal training for the priesthood Ñ when his unit was caught in an ambush, on October 29, 1963. Mortar and machine-gun fire poured into his position, and Captain Versace exposed himself in the killing zone to provide cover for a few of his buddies to escape. They did, but he was badly wounded in the knee and back by bullets and shrapnel. The Viet Cong took him prisoner, along with two other Americans. As the senior officer, Versace took command of his fellow prisoners and began to torment his captors. Versace's remarkable spirit matched the VC's ruthless cruelty. Fluent in Vietnamese and French, Versace protested the prisoners' treatment and argued about the validity of the Communist cause. The VC grew so frustrated with Versace that they confined him to a bamboo isolation box six-feet long, three-feet wide, and two-feet high Ñ one of the infamous "tiger cages." Yet they could do nothing to suppress Versace's leadership. He would sing patriotic songs at the top of his lungs and leave coded messages at the latrine for his fellow prisoners. He also tried to escape at least four times, even when he was in no physical condition to survive on his own in the jungle. This resistance went on for nearly two years. Fellow prisoners said Versace's behavior protected their own lives and health Ñ he drew so much attention to himself, and so aggravated his captors, that other prisoners received relatively mild treatment. He constantly exposed himself to danger and retaliation so that his fellow Americans might receive less of it, just as he had done on the day he was captured. The Viet Cong never broke Versace, but they did eventually execute him, on September 26, 1965. The last time another prisoner heard from Versace, he was singing God Bless America from his isolation box. His remains have never been recovered, though a marker at Arlington National Cemetery commemorates his passing. The Army has resisted giving the Medal of Honor to POWs. Other branches have done it, but Versace will become the first and probably the only infantryman to receive it for behavior during captivity in Vietnam. It took more than three decades of campaigning, by people who knew Versace as classmates at West Point as soldiers in Vietnam, to make it happen. ...........More
Link Posted: 7/3/2002 1:32:39 PM EDT
What a stud. Couldn't happen to a better guy. If you want more of Capt. Versace's story, read "Five Years to Freedom," by Col. Nick Rowe, USA. Col. (then Captain) Rowe was in a tiger cage in the same camp as Capt. Versace. Colonel Rowe was murdered by Filipino Muslim terrorists. R.I.P., Heroes.
Link Posted: 7/3/2002 1:34:50 PM EDT
Way to go Rock! Nick would be proud.
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