Iroquois welcomes World War II veterans to share their stories

World War II veterans Charlie Levezque (left) and Bill Rochelle speak with students.
World War II veterans Charlie Levezque (left) and Bill Rochelle speak with students.

Two World War II veterans visited Iroquois Middle School to share their stories with students who had just completed a unit on the war.

Middle school social studies teacher Dennis Frank has hosted World War II veterans at Iroquois for 22 years. This was the first time the program was held since 2019. Veterans Bill Rochelle, 99, and Charlie Levezque, 97, served on the Western Front and in the Pacific respectively.

“I have continued to host our incredible World War II because their stories need to be heard personally and directly from those who fought to defend and protect our freedom,” Frank said. “While my students spend considerable time studying the war, the emotional and intellectual messages our veterans share with my students are experiences that simply cannot be conveyed in the classroom.”

Rochelle was a member of the 463rd Bomb Squad, logging 31 missions over Germany. On 10 of the missions, his B-17 served as the lead crew on the mission. He was the First Lieutenant bombardier.

Levezque was assigned to the flagship USS Teton, the communication ship to all of the other ships in the convoy. His ship survived 150 Kamikaze attacks during the deadly 82-day-long Battle of Okinawa which occurred from April 1 to June 22 in 1945.

“It’s incredible that they were able to share their story,” said eighth grader Luciana Girolami. “I have a better appreciation for what really happened. If freedom is worth fighting for, then these two men have proved it.”

The high school choir performed the song “The Lone, Wild Bird” in honor of Rochelle and Levezque’s service. The event was held in the Media Center and live-streamed to other classrooms throughout the school.

student shakes veterans hand