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Capt. Rocky Versace to Receive Medal of Honor

Press Contact: Diane Crespy, 202-547-8115 dcrespy@osia.org

For Immediate Release:

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2002 – President George W. Bush will confer a posthumous Medal of Honor on Vietnam War hero Capt. Humbert "Rocky" Versace Monday, July 8 at the White House at 3:30 p.m., reports the Sons of Italy® News Bureau, the official news service of Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA).

NBC-TV's "Today" will feature the story of Versace (pronounced "Ver-sayse") and "NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw" will focus on the White House Medal of Honor ceremony during their July 8 broadcasts. [Check local listings for times.]

Versace's three brothers will accept the medal in the presence of 91 Army officers who attended West Point with him. Also present will be family, friends and comrades-in-arms who lobbied the government for almost 40 years to recognize Versace's heroism.

Versace was a West Point graduate, who had only two weeks left in his second tour of duty as a military advisor in Vietnam when he was captured in 1962. Tortured, starved and beaten, he escaped several times only to be re-captured and kept in a small bamboo cage. During interrogations, the other prisoners reported hearing him sing "God Bless America." After three years, the Viet Cong executed him but his body has never been found. He was 28 years old.

Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 575,000 members and supporters and a network of 700 chapters coast to coast. It is the largest and oldest national organization for people of Italian descent in the country. OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 24 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more about OSIA, visit us on the Web at www.osia.org or contact us via e-mail at nationaloffice@osia.org.