LERSETH, ROGER GENE RIP - 03/27/04
Name: Roger Gene Lerseth Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy Unit: Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Spokane WA Date of Loss: 06 September 1972 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 204610N 1063800E (XH700972) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A
Other Personnel in Incident: Donald F. Lindland (remains returned)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 1 April 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2015.
REMARKS: 730212 RELSD BY DRV - INJURED
SYNOPSIS: The Grumman A6 Intruder is a two-man all weather, low-altitude, carrier-based attack plane, with versions adapted as aerial tanker and electronic warfare platform. The A6A primarily flew close-air-support, all-weather and night attacks on enemy troop concentrations, and night interdiction missions. The planes were credited with some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war, including the destruction of the Hai Duong bridge between Hanoi and Haiphong by a single A6. Their missions were tough, but their crews among the most talented and most courageous to serve the United States.
Donald F. Lindand was the pilot of an A6A sent on a combat mission near Haiphong, North Vietnam on September 6, 1972. His bombardier/navigator on the flight was Lt. Roger G. Lerseth. During the mission the aircraft was shot down and both crewmembers ejected.
Lerseth was captured by the Vietnamese and taken to Hanoi. Lindand was seen running on the ground with Lerseth after ejection, and is known to have evaded capture for 24 hours. Hanoi radio reported that the "aggressor pilots" had been captured, but Lerseth was told by the Vietnamese that Lindland was dead.
In February 1973, Lerseth was released with 591 Americans from Vietnam. He had been a "guest" in the Hanoi prison system for the relatively short period of five months.
Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly held. It's time we brought our men home.
On June 3, 1983, the Vietnamese "discovered" and returned the remains of Donald F. Lindland to U.S. control. Alive or dead, Lindland was a prisoner of war for eleven years.
03/27/04 As you know, Rog has been quite ill. We hoped we had the issue resolved, however, the balancing act between liver and kidneys never worked. Despite all efforts, nothing could be made to work. It grieves me deeply to tell you that this morning, Roger "...slipped the surly bonds of earth."
Commander Roger Gene Lerseth, United States Navy (retired), age 57, 24 year
Oak Harbor resident and former Vietnam prisoner-of-war, died at his home on
Saturday, March 27, 2004, following a brief illness.
Roger Lerseth retired from the United States Navy as a Commander. He resided in Whidbey Island with his with Chris until his death. He will be buried in Arlington.
The NETWORK had the distinct pleasure of meeting Roger in 1998. We extend our deepest sympathy to the family.
Roger "Zipper" Lerseth died in 2004. At his service at Arlington,
Ev Alvarez delivered this eulogy which is one of the finest that I have ever
Roger Lerseth – Gone West
Dr. Lerseth always seemed to approach his time as part of the Fourth Allied POW Wing with deference, opining that he was the “new kid” – a “short timer”. All this despite the fact that he was a proven warrior of some 96 combat missions, holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and one who repeatedly went in harm’s way to create conditions that would ensure our release and peace with honor.
Well let us put that shibboleth to rest today by stealing from William Shakespeare’s King Henry V. Interestingly enough, one of Henry’s generals was named Westmoreland. So with that tenuous connection, let us transmute the Bard and St. Crispin’s Day for our own purposes, taking the scene just before the definitive battle against the French hoards and transferring the site to Vietnam.
EARL OF WESTMORELAND.
“O that we now had here but one ten thousand of those men in the States that do no work to day!
“ Who is that who wishes so? My General Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin; If we are marked to die, it will be our country’s loss; and if to live, the fewer men, the greater share of honor. It is God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more. By the good Lord, I am not in this for money, nor care I who inherits my wealth; it bothers me not if my gear goes into the lucky bag; such outward things dwell not in my desires.
“But if it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul alive.
“No, faith, my cousin, wish not a man from America. God's peace! I would not lose so great an honor as one man more methinks would take a share from me for the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
“Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host, That he which hath no stomach to this fight, Let him depart; his passport shall be made, And crowns for convoy put into his purse; We would not die in that man's company that fears his fellowship to die with us.
“This decade is called the Vietnam War, this battle the battle of Hanoi. He that outlives this decade, and comes safe home, will stand a tip-toe when this day is named, and rouse himself at the names of Hanoi, Son Tay, Khe Sanh, TeT, the Easter Offensive.
“He that shall survive this decade, and see old age, will yearly on the vigil, feast his neighbors, and say 'To-morrow is Freedom Day.' Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, and say 'These wounds I had in Hanoi.' Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot, But he will remember, with advantages, what feats he did that decade.
“Then shall our names, familiar in his mouth as household words- Risner and Kassler, Stockdale and McCain, Alvarez and McDaniel, Swindle and Fredricks, Rowe and Purcell, Galanti and Lerseth - be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
“This story shall the good man teach his son; and TeT shall never go by, from this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remembered- We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he this decade that sheds his blood with us shall be our brother; however long his stay, one day shall gentle his condition; And gentlemen in America who stayed-a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap when anyone speaks that fought with us in Vietnam upon that decade.”
So speaks King Henry for all of us.
Dr. Lerseth indeed was a member of this band of brothers, we happy few. He will be remembered with pride by all those who went downtown, saw the elephant and returned with honor.
Roger shares with Saint Paul the epitaph the Saint proclaimed for himself in his letter to Timothy:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” To this the brotherhood of River Rats and NamPows add: “He returned with honor.”
God Bless you Peach; we shared a fine man. May God bless us all. God Bless America.
King Henry V: IV, iii
CAPT Christine "Peach" Picchi RIP
Chris "Peach" Picchi passed away a week ago, April 2nd. Although details are still sketchy at this point she'd been in ill health for the last two years. Then she got an infection in her pancreas that developed into pancreatitis. In the last two weeks, with her liver and kidneys failing her body gave up and she passed away. Her death was a shock to the entire River Rat, Intruder, Navy League and Whidbey Island communities. She will be sorely missed by so many.
The only information I have at this point is that there is a memorial service planned to be held at the base chapel at Whidbey Island NAS. The date and time have yet to be determined. It is my sincere hope that there will be a substantial turnout of River Rats to honor Peach's send off to join her late husband and Blue Two, Roger Lerseth at Arlington. Roger's Tribute Link
Please stand by for further announcements.