The medal of honor is the highest award the U.S. military can give. While many have been awarded this medal over countless wars there is one man you have likely never heard of who deserved it more than most. Rocky Versace was the first man to be awarded a medal of honor for his time as a prisoner of war. His efforts and behavior rang true with the word honor and his stubborn behavior likely inspired and saved the lives of many others held captive.
Rocky Versace was an intelligent strong man and stubborn as a bull. He was a kind and caring individual who planned on being a priest and while serving in Vietnam volunteered with many local orphanages. He was fluent in both Vietnamese and French which made him a useful soldier during the war campaign.
During one mission he was captured and arrested. He was beaten and tortured for information but gave nothing away. More than that, he used his language skills to constantly berate the soldiers holding him captive. He escaped his prison four times only to be captured and beaten again and again. Yet nothing would break his spirit.
He would sing pop songs to lift the spirits of his fellow prisoners and when his captors moved him to isolation, he simply sang louder. Many other prisoners at the time said that his behavior kept their spirits high, inspired them to act and likely kept them alive. The soldiers hated him so much that they rarely paid any attention to the others in captivity.
His behavior bothered the captors so much that they would often beat him to within an inch of his life. Yet he never backed down. It got to a point where the only solution was to kill Rocky Versace and so on September 26th, 1965 he was executed. He chose a moment of honor over a life of compromise and exemplified the spirit of the medal of honor in his every action.