Know Your Military

Medal of Honor Monday: Army Capt. Humbert Versace

Oct. 29, 2018 | BY Katie Lange

This article is part of a weekly series called “Medal of Honor Monday,” in which we’ll highlight one of the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the U.S. military’s highest medal for valor.

Medal of Honor Monday graphic
Medal of Honor Monday
Medal of Honor Monday graphic
Photo By: DOD Graphic by Regina Ali
VIRIN: 171212-O-JZ422-826

On this Medal of Honor Monday, we’re highlighting a soldier who volunteered to go to Vietnam, only to be captured 55 years ago today, then tortured and eventually executed by the enemy.

Army Capt. Humbert Versace was the son of an Army colonel who decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1959. He served in Korea before volunteering to go to Vietnam as an advisor.

A black and white photo of Capt. Humbert Versace.
Humbert Versace
Medal of Honor recipient Army Capt. Humbert Versace.
Photo By: Army
VIRIN: 181022-A-JZ422-399A

In October 1963, Versace was accompanying a South Vietnamese military unit when it came under attack by Viet Cong enemies. He was seriously wounded in the battle, but he continued to fight until he was taken prisoner.

Since he could speak French and Vietnamese, Versace largely assumed command of the other men imprisoned with him. For nearly two years, he withstood exhaustive interrogations, torture and abuse without breaking. He even tried to escape four times.

Versace was eventually isolated, caged, shackled in irons and starved before he was executed on Sept. 26, 1965. His body was never recovered.

Men remove a cover from a plaque during a ceremony.
Hall of Heroes Ceremony
Army Capt. Humbert Versace’s brothers uncover his Medal of Honor plaque during an induction ceremony into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes, July 9, 2002. President George W. Bush presented the award to Versace's family at the White House one day earlier.
Photo By: Staff Sgt. Marcia T. Hart
VIRIN: 020709-A-0364H-002

For his unyielding courage in the most dire of situations, Versace was nominated for the Medal of Honor in 1969, but he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star instead. It took until 2002 for that award to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

This article is part of a weekly series called "Medal of Honor Monday," in which we highlight one of the more than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who have earned the U.S. military's highest medal for valor.