Joe Kernan and Tom Blum remember John Roche, killed in Vietnam

On March 5, 2016, Joe Kernan, who had been honored at the end of January during a Notre Dame hockey game, pointed out the oversight noticed by Tom Blum when the names of our classmates were read:

To Bryan Dunigan:

Tom Blum alerted me that John Roche had died in Vietnam.


What we do know is that John was an Army 1st Lieutenant


serving in Vietnam.  He was killed in action on December 15, 1969,


shortly after arriving in Vietnam.


Joe Kernan



10 thoughts on “Joe Kernan and Tom Blum remember John Roche, killed in Vietnam

  1. Joe. I am glad you set things straight. I went to Loyola Academy in Chicago with John. He was a great guy. At Xavier I roomed with your pal Paul Reilly O’Connor. A real character. Another great guy.

    Like you and John I am a Viet Nam Vet from ’69.

    Thanks again for this. By the way our baseball team beat you guys back in ’68. I think Reilly took you guys out to all the saloons the nite before the game.

  2. Thankyou for remembering John. A day doesn’t go by that we don’t think about him. There will never be any “closure”; that is such an abused word. But, we take out his guitar every 8/25 and belt out one of his renditions of “If I Had a Hammer” as an ode to his birthday. I’ve had the honor of keeping up with Ray Munchmeyer, Bill Nunguesser, and Mike Quirk, all ’68, over the years. Bill recently told me he was the last one to see John in Boston before he took off for Nam. Bill tried to talk him into going to Canada; that he knew someone there, etc. John’s reply?: “My mother would be ashamed..” Wow..if he only knew. But that about sums him up: duty, honor, country, Mom… And, “Mom” played hostess to several other ’68 grads : Tom Curtin, Mark Kelleher, Steve Sullivan… and others John just grabbed running out the dorm doors of ND for a weekend at the homestead in Lake Forest, IL. They were all fun, and my sister and I had mad crushes on all of them. Two of my kids are currently serving: one Navy, one Army. I know John is keeping an eye on them, and all his former colleagues from Class of ’68. Nancy Roche, and siblings Robert, Christopher and Rosemary.

    • Nancy. The anniversary of John’s sacrifice is only a couple of days away. I think of him often and keep in my desk his place at 15w. What a nice guy. We were classmates at Loyola. He was in the upper10 per cent of the class. I was in the bottom 20 percent!

      I was in Viet Nam in “69 when Bob Hammer informed me of John’s passing. God bless him I am convinced he is looking down on all of us.

    • Nancy,
      I just read your note from 2016 regarding John. I had just gone on active duty when I read about his death in Vietnam.

      He was a wonderful friend with a great sense of humor and an eye for attractive young ladies. I’m sorry it has taken me four years to contact amember of your family to offer my condolences.
      Your family was so gracious to allow me to visit your Lake Forest home. Your parents were wonderful people and you and your siblings were great.
      I trust you, Rosemary and Brian and your families are in good health.

      Take Care,


    • Hi, Nancy, John was a very great guy and a great friend. I always appreciated your parent’s hospitality in not only having me but also inviting my dad while he was in Chicago. I’ll always remember John as a Ladies Man and he had great eye for the ladies.

      Every Memorial Day, I honor ND classmates and friends who lost their lives in Vietnam. I was lucky as the Army sent me to Korea instead of Vietnam. When I left the service in 1972 I was a Captain in the Military Police.

      I do think of John a lot and will never forget his friendship. Take Care

  3. I lived next door to John in Sorin Hall during the 1966-67 school year. Me and my roomie Harry Kane of Pittsburgh lived in 109. That would have made John and Mark Kelleher’s room 110? [Math was my downfall at ND, one of the reasons I checked out in 1968 short of the degree. ]

    I will always remember John as the happy, well-adjusted guy, patient and friendly in the midst of a zoo animals like me and “Bull” Kelleher. I’ll always feel that regret we have when a good one like John is lost. He is in my prayers.

    • Very nice, Jack. Thanks. John Roche must have been a tremendous guy. You probably saw Ray Munchmeyer’s remembrance of John, too.

  4. I am the missing link in John Roche’s senior year in Sorin Hall at ND. I roomed with Jack Lavelle and we lived next store to John on the 1st floor of Sorin. I have two interesting anecdotes about John. The first concerns St’ Patrick’s Day 1968. John and I were sitting around Sorin and we decided to go over to the dining hall early and then hit the library. I had a big Russian test coming up (don’t study this language, it’s impossible!). We got to the dining hall and were about to get in line when my older brother skated in and started talking to us. He and one of his friends from the class of ’67 had cut classes and were at Sweeney’s consuming strong drink. John and I were laughing at their antics. Then John turned around to get in line. My brother skated up behind him and took John by the rear of his sport coat and ripped it up the back at the seam. John now had two sport coats. We all laughed about it. My brother and his friend left the place and were headed back to South Bend: In those days there wasn’t a big Bookstore Basketball tournament. We had an inter hall league Naturally the first floor (including ringers) had a team. Out two best players were Jack Lavelle and Walt Gazdayka ’68, a monogram winning baseball player. In the second half, after we were down about 30, John Roche and I subbed into the line up. Walsh hall was lead by All- America
    split end Jim Seymour (now deceased). Big Jim went up to take a shot and the ball slipped out of his hands. Roche immediately screamed “Harry stuffed Seymout!” When John got to the bench he kept it up— telling all the guys of my athletic feat. This was pretty embarrassing to a guy who was cut from his high school team. But John kept it up all night and be had a big laugh about it.

  5. John was my first roommate at ND – #124 Keenan. He was studious and sincere, but certainly not a nerd. Though I didn’t see too much of him because he was always at the library or doing ROTC stuff, I will always remember him.

  6. A couple of months after graduation while awaiting my AF pilot training assignment, I visited John at his Mom’s house in the LA area. He had just bought a used car and showed me the car registration. It listed the previous owner as Leanord Nimoy. I was easily impressed in those days. Unfortunately, I was never to see him again. And here we are, 50 years later

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