Vietnam veteran Jim Larocca was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and graduated from Hofstra University on Long Island. He was commissioned as a US Naval Officer at the Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island in 1965, and attended a series of naval schools in Newport, Norfolk, and San Diego before reporting for duty as Communications Officer aboard USS Garrett County (LST 786). The WWII-era landing ship was converted and recommissioned for duty as a mobile river patrol base, and arrived in South Vietnam in early 1967. With a dozen river patrol boats (PBRs) and two Seawolf helicopters UH1Es), the ship was tasked with interrupting and interdicting enemy water-borne traffic and military operations in the waterways of the Mekong Delta. The ship also staged operations with US Navy Seal and US Army Special Forces teams, as well as ARVN units. The ship earned both a Presidential and Navy Unit Citation. LTJG Larocca was promoted to LT and in 1968 assigned to USS Cocopa (ATF101) as Executive Officer and Navigator. Cocopa engaged in towing, salvage and rescue operations on the Vietnamese coast and the South China Sea.The ship also supported the carrier task force on Yankee Station by monitoring and interfering with the operations of the Russian trawler shadowing the American force.