America is extraordinary! Those are the words of Bill Rocap, when describing what he learned from his service during Vietnam. Mr. Rocap is a Vietnam Era Veteran, serving as an E-3 in the Navy aboard the USS Strong. After traveling the world, Bill came home to truly appreciate this country. After meeting Bill Rocap, Purple Heart Homes learned how extraordinary he is, and we are sharing his story with you.
Bill Rocap was born and raised in Iowa. In 1969, Bill was headed to college like many 18 year olds. However, he received a draft letter that changed his plans. The United States was in the midst of the Vietnam War, and many individuals were called to serve the country. Bill wanted to serve, so he chose the Navy. He approached the Navy recruiters and asked to leave immediately for training.
When asked why he wanted to serve in the middle of a war, Bill replied, “Freedom is not free. Go visit [Arlington] cemetery,” he says, “and you might leave with a small understanding of what freedom costs.”
After three years of service, he came home with hopes of returning to his pre-military plans. However, a motorcycle accident changed his life forever. In the accident, a car hit him and severed his leg. The traumatic event was witnessed by several students who were too paralyzed with shock to respond.
One 16-year-old boy ran to Bill and with quick-thinking action, saved his life.
The young man ran to Bill, who lay there with a severed leg, and used his own belt as a tourniquet to stop the immense bleeding. He then dialed 9-1-1. When medics arrived, Bill begged them to save his leg. The medic told Bill that he was more focused on saving his life. To this day, Bill credits the tourniquet from the quick-thinking 16-year-old as the reason he is alive.
Initially, Bill’s leg was reattached by an orthopedic surgeon. This resulted in a lengthy hospital stay. Bill and his mom passed the time by continuously reading scripture. One scripture Bill remembers her reading was a passage from Isaiah 26:3 – Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee. From that point on, Bill held that passage close.
Eventually, the orthopedic surgeon realized that reattachment of Bill’s leg was not working. When the doctors told Bill that they may have to amputate his left leg, his response was, “Well, let’s do it, man. I’ve got things to do.” Bill Rocap was given a prosthetic leg in 1973 and has had that same one ever since.
Once he was finally released from the hospital, Bill set out to live his life to the fullest. He worked in construction, and eventually, started his own computer business. During this time, Bill’s parents moved from Iowa to North Carolina. Bill would often visit them and toured many parts of the state. He fell in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains; so much so, that he ended up selling his computer business in Iowa and buying a piece of land on Barrett Mountain in Taylorsville.
You can make a difference in the life of Veterans like Bill Rocap. Your donations are the keys that can open a much higher quality of life for deserving Veterans across our Nation.