(Washington, D.C.) -
of America is deeply saddened to learn of the death this morning of Louis
Richard Rocco from cancer. Rocco, 63, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his
actions in Vietnam.
"Richard left this earth for a better place, but his spirit will always be
with us," said VVA National President Thomas H. Corey. "He fought many
battles and won, but this last battle was too much, even for him."
Rocco was instrumental in promoting VVA's Veterans Against Drugs (VAD)
program in cities across the country. "Richard was always willing to go
wherever needed to promote a drug-free environment for our children and
communities," said Herb Worthington, Chair of VAD. "He was an important
resource for all of us, and he will be deeply missed."
In 1970, Rocco was a Sergeant First Class (SFC) when he volunteered to
accompany a medical evacuation team on an urgent mission to evacuate eight
critically wounded Army of the Republic of Vietnam personnel. The helicopter
he was riding in became the target of intense enemy automatic weapons fire.
The aircraft was forced down, fracturing Rocco's wrist and hip and severely
bruising his back.
Ignoring his injuries, he extracted the survivors from the burning wreckage,
sustaining burns to his own body. Despite intense enemy fire, Rocco helped
administer first aid to his wounded comrades until his wounds and burns
caused him to collapse and lose consciousness.
Until his death this morning, Rocco was New Mexico's only living Medal of
Honor Recipient from the Vietnam War. He is survived by his wife, Maria,
three grown children, and five grandchildren.
"Richard was a dear friend to us, and we will miss his energy and his
commitment to helping our young people choose life over drugs," Corey said.