Michael “Mike” DiRocco’s experience in the Vietnam War differs from the typical soldier. He was a Green Beret tasked with turning indigenous tribesmen into modern mercenaries.
But all Vietnam War veterans get a thank you today. On March 28, 2017 — the 50th anniversary of the war — President Donald Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act, declaring March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
The day commemorates the historic moment 45 years ago when the last U.S. troops left the shores of Vietnam.
DiRocco, who now lives in Brevard at the age of 79, served three tours of duty in Vietnam for the U.S. Army Special Forces.
DiRocco joined the Marines in 1954, serving as a tank commander and an Italian interpreter for NATO. With a hunger to go to school, DiRocco’s sergeant major told him to join the Army because they had the funding to do so.
In 1960, DiRocco joined the Army with hopes of joining the Special Forces. The son of Italian immigrants, DiRocco had the language capabilities and clearance needed to join the few hundred Green Berets at the time.