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|William Marshall Roark was born on 23 October 1938 at Sioux City, Iowa and grew up in Omaha, Nebr. In 1956, he graduated from Central High School where he was the cadet
colonel and commanding officer of the school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. It was also at Central that he met his future bride, Karen Krause. He was appointed to the United
States Naval Academy in 1956, from which he graduated and was commissioned an ensign on 08 June 1960. Subsequently selected for a career path in Naval aviation, he attended flight
training in Pensacola, Fla. and Beeville, Tex., before his eventual assignment to Attack Squadron 153 in Lemoore, Cal.
Lt. Roark deployed twice with VA-153 aboard USS Coral Sea (CVA 43). On the second deployment in 1965, the flight crews of Coral Sea saw the first heavy and sustained action of the war in Vietnam during Operation ROLLING THUNDER. On 07 April, Lt. Roark was leading a two ship section armed reconnaissance mission in the area of Dong Hoi, North Vietnam. His flight detected an anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) site and engaged the target. Following the first attack, as the site had not been destroyed, Lt. Roark attacked again. On the second attack his aircraft was struck by the AAA fire. His A-4C Skyhawk was too severely damaged to continue, and Lt. Roark ejected over hostile coastal water where he was fired upon continuously while parachuting to the sea.
In his last letter to his wife, Lt. Roark wrote "I don't want my sons to fight a war I should have fought. I wish more Americans felt that way. I will not live in a totalitarian society and I don't want you to, either. I believe in God and will resist any force that attempts to remove God from society, no matter what the name".
Lt. William Marshall Roark was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was survived by his parents, his wife Karen and three children, Lisa, John and William. His remains were recovered in March 1977 and he was buried at Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery, Omaha, Nebraska. In 2004, his alma mater, Central High School, named Roark to their hall of fame, and in 2005, the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets Corps of Dyersburg, Tenn, named their unit the Lt. William Roark squadron in his honor.
USS Roark (DE 1053) (1969-1991) was the first ship to be named in his honor, and the first ship to be named for someone lost in the Vietnam War.
(Photo from the site: U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1960)
|45k||undated, broadside view of the Knox class ship, USS Roark (FF 1053), clearly showing her stern mounted missile system.||-|
|160k||undated||Peter M. Leenhouts|
Commander, USN (ret.)
|209k||20 February 1970: the Pacific Ocean - Two views of the escort ship USS Roark (DE 1053) underway off the coast of San Diego, California.
(U.S. Navy Photo #K-81934 and #K-81935 from the United States National Archives)
Port Angeles, Wash.
|292k||Spring 1971: Yokosuka, Japan - Three U.S. Navy Knox-class destroyer escorts at Yokosuka, Japan (l-r): USS
Hepburn (DE 1055), USS Gray (DE 1054) and USS Roark (DE 1053).
(U.S. Navy photo from the All Hands Magazine, May 1971)
|753k||23 May 1972: Subic Bay, P.I. - USS Roark (DE 1053) and USS Francis
Hammond (DE 1067) along side USS Piedmont (AD 17).
(Photo #720909 by G. R. Sirkis)
|Glenn R. Sirkis|
MMFN, A Div.
USS Ashtabula (AO 51)
|83k||December 1973: Midway Island - Berthed opposite USS Hull (DD 945)||Earl Axe|
|83k||late 1970's: at Sydney Harbor, Australia (Photo © Barry Seward)||Barry A. Seward|
|257k||14 September 1990: At sea - A port bow view of Roark underway.
(Note date of photo. Date has to be incorrect since the hull upgrade isn't done yet.)
(U.S. Navy photo DVID #DN-ST-90-11614 by PHAN Burgess from the Defense Visual Information Center )
|143k||12 May 1981: At sea - A port bow view of Roark underway en route to Hawaii.
(U.S. Navy photo DVID #DN-SC-90-11732 by PH3 Swinland from the DVIC )
|233k||15 June 1982: Naval Station, Subic Bay, Luzon, P.I. - An aerial view of the U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility. Berthed at the shipyard are the Knox-class frigates
Roark and USS Harold E. Holt (FF 1074). Moored alongside them is the guided missile frigate
USS Brooke (FFG 1).|
(U.S. Navy photo DVID #DN-SN-84-06232 by PH1 David McLean from the DVIC )
|73k||April 1983: the North Central Pacific Ocean - Taken during FleetEx 83-1 from USCGC Rush (WHEC 723). USS Roark approached us from astern as we formed a gun line for an upcoming gunnery exercise.||Bryan Fisher|
|766k||01 August 1992: Naval Inactive ship Maintence Facility, Bremerton, Wash. - View of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington. The following ships are identifiable
(front to back): Three Agile-class minesweepers, with USS Pluck (MSO 464) as the first in the row; USS Hornet (CVS -12); USS New Jersey (BB 62); USS
Roark (FF 1053); USS Stein (FF 1065); USS Oriskany (CV 34) with a Knox-class frigate; two Asheville-class gunboats; USS Bennington (CVS 20)
with an old WWII-submarine alongside; USS Midway (CV 41) with six Knox-class frigates. The active carriers USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)
are visible in the background.
(U.S. Navy photo Digital ID #HAER WASH, 18-BREM.3-2 from the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
|180k||July 1994: Naval Inactive ship Maintence Facility, Bremerton, Wash. - Sailfish
(USS 572), Francis Hammond (FF 1067),
Stein (FF 1065) and Roark in mothballs at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
(Photo by Gilbert Gyssels).
|37k||1996: Naval Inactive ship Maintence Facility, Bremerton, Wash. - Roark in reserve, nested with
Francis Hammond (FF 1067), Knox
(FF 1052) and Hepburn (FF 1055) alongside.
(Photo © James H. Hopper III)
|James H. Hopper III|
Commander, USN (ret.)
|155k||27 July 1996: Naval Inactive ship Maintence Facility, Bremerton, Wash. -
Francis Hammond (FF 1067), Stein (FF 1065), Roark, and
New Jersey (BB 62) in mothballs, nested at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
(Photos by Gilbert Gyssels)
|27k||11 February 2004: Roark passing San Padre Island, Tex. on the way to International Shipbreaking
(from the website of International Shipbreaking Corp., Brownsville TX)
|110k||19 February 2004: Brownsville, Tex. - Roark awaits the cutting torches at the shipbreakers in the Port of Brownsville.
(Photo © Michael Martin from Pinemikey's Pbase Galleries)
|183k||William M. Roark's place on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. Panel 1E Line 107. Panel 1E is right where the memorial bends.||Steve Dietrich|
(pre 1975, as DE)
(post 1975, as FF)
|View the USS Roark (DE 1053) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.|
|Roark's Commanding Officers
Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
|Dates of Command||Commanding Officers|
|1.) 22 Nov. 1969 - Nov. 1970||Cmdr. Wayne L. Beech|
|2.) Nov. 1970 - May 1972||Cmdr. Arthur Stanley Moreau, Jr.* (USNA '53) (Mount Ranier, Md.) (died as Adm.)|
|3.) May 1972 - Nov. 1972||Cmdr. Robert Joseph Kerrigan (prior enl. / '55) (Greely, Nebr.)|
|4.) Nov. 1972 - May 1974||Lcdr. Griffin Freeman Hamilton|
|5.) May 1974 - May 1976||Lcdr. Paul Davis Moses (USNA '61) (Quincy, Fla.) (ret. as Radm.)|
|6. ) May 1976 - May 1978||Cmdr. Jack Lane Weston (USNA '57) (Marion, Oh.)|
|7.) May 1978 - 17 Mar. 1981||Cmdr. Thomas Edward Ferguson|
|8.) 17 Mar. 1981 - Oct. 1982||Cmdr. Frederick Gilbert Kleyn III (OCS '62)|
|9.) Oct. 1982 - Feb. 1985||Cmdr. Hugh Leonard Webb (OCS '64) (Girard, Oh.)|
|10.) Feb. 1985 - May 1987||Cmdr. Jeffrey R. Beinbrink (USNA '67) (Manhasset, N.Y.)|
|11.) May 1987 - Feb. 1990||Cmdr. Warren E. Small (East Nassau, N.Y.)|
|12.) Feb. 1990 - 14 Dec. 1991||Cmdr. Steven Earle Pilnick (OCS '70) (Rockaway Beach, N.Y.)|
Contact information is compiled from various sources over a period of time and may, or may not, be correct. Every effort has been
made to list the newest contact. However, our entry is only as good as the latest information that's been sent to us. We list only
a contact for the ship if one has been sent to us. We do NOT have crew lists or rosters available. Please see the Frequently Asked
Questions section on Navsource's Main Page for that information.
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Page Last Updated: 07 July 2021