|Birth: ||Oct. 24, 1946|
South Dakota, USA
|Death: ||Mar. 7, 2004|
Commander Roger Gene Lerseth, USN,(Ret.), 57, a 24 year Oak Harbor resident and former Vietnam POW, died at his home following a brief illness.
Cmdr. Lerseth was born to Orville and Lillian (Heggem) Lerseth. He was raised in Belle Fouche and Spokane, where he graduated from West Valley High School. He earned a BA in economics from the University of Washington in June 1969 and was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy through the NROTC program. Designated a naval filght officer in 1970, he qualified in the A-6 Intruder at Oceana Naval Air Station, joining VA-75 aboard the USS Saratoga (CV-60) for a 1971 Mediterranean deployment followed by a 1972 combat deployment to Southeast Asia.
On September 6, 1972, then-Lt. Lerseth was shot down over North Vietnam. Seriously injured from his ejection, he was captured and held by the North Vietnamese in the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison.
Upon release in February 1973, he was hospitalized at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, Oakland, California, to recover from his injuries. After obtaining his MBA from Old Dominion University, he returned to flight duty in 1976 with VA-35, participating in the first deployment of the nuclear carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68). In January 1979, he was assigned to the U.S. Naval Academy as an instructor and academic advisor. In 1981, following transition training at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in the new A-6 TRAM aircraft, he served as VA-95 aperations officer aboard the USS America (CVA-66) and the USS Enterprise (CVN-65).
In 1982, following recurring medical problems from his combat injuries, he was reassigned as A-6 plans and program manager at COMMATVAQWINGPAC. He then served as officer in charge, Naval Support Activity, Gaeta, Italy, followed by assignment as a financial manager and operations analyst at the Naval Center for Cost Analysis. His last active Naval assignment was as a faculty member of the Strategy and Policy Department, Naval War College, Newport, Rhoad Island, from which he retired in August, 1984. He received a Ph.D in political science from Boston University in 2001.
His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross (five awards), the Bronze Star with Combat V, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), five individual and seven Strike/Flight Air Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V (two awards), and the Naval Achievement Medal, among other personal and unit citations.
A patron of naval aviation, he was vice-president of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association; commanding officer, Whidbey Island Squadron, Association of Naval Aviation; and a member of the NAMPOWs, 4th Allied POW Wing.
Roger is survived by his wife of 23 years, Capt. Christine Picchi, NC, USN,(Ret.) of Oak Harbor; his mother, Lillian Lerseth of Spokane; and two sisters, JoAnn Lerseth of Spokane and Lauretta Rosell and husband Eric and their children, Cameron and Kelsey, all of Kalispell, Montana.
He was preceded in death by his father in 1972.
A memorial service was held at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station chapel. Full military honors and inurnment will take place at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.
Christine Anne Picchi (1950 - 2015)*
Arlington National Cemetery
Plot: Section 66, Grave 3767
Created by: Flintstone
Record added: Apr 18, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 13995173
Added: Nov. 22, 2012
God Bless you.|
Added: Aug. 6, 2008
Added: May. 29, 2006