Roger Lerseth was born on October 24, 1946, in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. He was commissioned through the Navy ROTC Program at the University of Washington in June 1969, and was designated a Naval Flight Officer in 1970. Lerseth became an A-6 Intruder navigator-bombardier and joined 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, LT Lerseth was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War. After 159 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming with the first group on February 12, 1973, due to his injuries. After hospitalization, he went back to college and obtained his MBA from Old Dominion University, before returning to flying status in 1976. He participated in the first deployment of the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) with VA-35 and then served as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy from 1979 to 1981. Lerseth next served as Operations Officer with VA-95 aboard the USS America (CVA-66) and the USS Enterprise (CVN-65). He was taken off flying status due to recurring medical problems from his combat injuries in 1982, and was then reassigned as A-6 Plans and Program Manager in the Pacific. His next assignment was as Officer in Charge of Naval Support Activity in Gaeta, Italy, followed by an assignment as a financial manager and operations analyst at the Naval Center for Cost Analysis. His final assignment was as a faculty member of the Strategy and Policy Department at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, where he retired from the Navy on August 1, 1994. Roger received a Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston University in 2001. CDR Lerseth was a former Vice-President of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, former Commanding Officer of the Whidbey Island Squadron of the Association of Naval Aviation, and a member of NAM-POWs Corp. Roger Lerseth died at his home in Oak Harbor, Washington, on March 27, 2004. He was survived by his wife of twenty-three years, Christine Picchi, his mother, Lillian Lerseth, and two sisters, JoAnn Lerseth and Lauretta Rozell.
His 1st (of 5) Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For heroism while participating in aerial flight as a naval flight officer of jet aircraft, serving with Attack Squadron SEVENTY-FIVE, embarked in USS SARATOGA (CV-60) during combat operations in Southeast Asia. On 12 June 1972, Lieutenant Lerseth conducted a daring night low-level, armed reconnaissance mission deep into enemy territory. He skillfully navigated his aircraft through heavily fortified mountainous terrain to successfully attack a well-defended transshipment complex located within eight miles of a major enemy air base. Expertly using the sophisticated A6 weapons system, he made two attacks on the target which resulted in four secondary explosions and a large sustained fire. Careful planning, flawless execution, and attention to the smallest details in the face of numerous difficulties enable the mission to be safely and successfully completed. Lieutenant Lerseth's courageous leadership and aerial skill reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service