Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran James Roskoph, who served in numerous campaigns during the Vietnam War.
James Roskoph was born in 1939 in Cleveland. In his senior year of high school, he joined the Navy Reserve. After graduation, Roskoph attended boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. He returned home and began working at a department store.
Roskoph later attended Navy Engineman Class “A” School, where he learned engineering and mechanic skills. He then went to USS Bushnell in Key West, Florida, where he remained for two years. After Key West, served aboard USS Gilmore in Charleston, South Carolina.
After serving in South Carolina for a year and a half, Roskoph went to a pre-commissioned detail in Pascagoula, Mississippi. During this time, he received further training in New London, Connecticut, where he learned how to repair auxiliary and nuclear systems on fleet ballistic missile submarines. Roskoph was then stationed overseas in Rota, Spain. He also spent time in Holland before returning to the U.S. to work as a chief engineer on the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California. While there, he assisted in moving ammunition ships.
In 1967, Roskoph left Mare Island and attended operations training with the River Patrol Force to prepare for serving in Vietnam. His assignment was to support the patrol craft that patrolled the large rivers in southern Vietnam. Roskoph provided fire support for the Vietnamese Army and river patrol boats during the Tet Offensive in 1968. For 12 months, he oversaw the maintenance operations of the River Patrol Force. He received a Navy Commendation Medal with a combat “V” for his efforts during this time.
After leaving Vietnam, Roskoph served aboard USS Hunley, where he was as an assistant division officer for a year before volunteering for another tour in Vietnam. In an interview with the Cherry Hill Public Library, Roskoph explained: “At that time, there [were] a lot of people who had no real combat experience…what they considered to be these major problems were to me kind of, ‘Okay, we’ll get it done…’ I got a little frustrated.”
Roskoph returned to Vietnam with River Patrol Force, River Squad 572 in 1970. He received a Purple Heart after shrapnel hit him during an ambush. Later, he spent time in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic and served as an advisor for the Navy in Iran. He retired from the military in 1978 and moved to New Jersey with his family.
Roskoph died in 2019 at the age of 80.
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: Amanda Baker
Editor: Katherine Berman
Fact checker: Kinsley Ballas and