Army and Air Force Veteran Louis Rocha is today’s Veteran of the Day.
Louis Rocha was born in September 1930 in Hackensack, New Jersey. He grew up during the Great Depression and began shining shoes when he was nine years old. Rocha earned 50 cents each day and worked six days a week.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Rocha decided he wanted to join the military after hearing about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Six years later, he fulfilled his goal when he enlisted in the New Jersey Army National Guard in September 1947. Rocha served in the Army National Guard for three years before transitioning to the Air Force in 1950.
In the Air Force, Rocha served in many places throughout the world. One of his most unforgettable roles came in 1952 during the Korean War. He served as the noncommissioned officer in charge of radio operations for Detachment 4, 607th Air Control and Warning Squadron, 502nd Tactical Control Group. In this role, he helped guide Boeing B-29 Superfortresses as they attacked locations chosen by the U.S. Army X Corps. Rocha also took part in the U.S. Fifth Air Force mission, which bombed key enemy locations following the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge.
Following the Korean War, Rocha had many overseas stations throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s. After his tour in Korea, he served in Japan, followed by Turkey, Germany, Finland and Thailand. Rocha frequently worked in the U.S. Air Force Security Service Command at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio when he was not overseas.
Rocha retired from the Air Force in 1977 at the rank of chief master sergeant. In retirement, Rocha worked in the U.S. Postal Service and was involved in various civic organizations. During his service, he received a Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, an Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, an Air Force Good Conduct Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, an Air Force Longevity Service Award with five oak leaf clusters, a Navy Meritorious Service Award, a Defense Intelligence Agency Commendation Medal, a Korean War Service Medal with three battle stars, a Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, a Republic of Korea Service Ribbon, a U.S. Army Commander’s Award for Public Service Medal and the Coveted Memorial Services Detachment Life Member Tab.
Rocha died in May 2021 when he was 90 years old. He is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Raymond Lin
Editors: Alexander Reza, Annabelle Colton
Researcher: David Deprez, Kennedy Hertz
Graphic artist: Brittany Gorski