LT William Marshall Roark
April 7, 1965
In Omaha, Nebraska, Central High School will honor Lieutenant William Marshall Roark, USN, on 7 October, 2004 with his induction to its’ Hall of Fame. LT Roark was killed in action attacking targets near Dong Hoi, North Vietnam as pilot of a Navy A-4C Skyhawk jet of Attack Squadron 153. He was flying from the Aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea on April 7, 1965, while on his second deployment to the Vietnam conflict. Roark had served as cadet colonel and commanding officer of Central High School JROTC regiment and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1960. For his heroism in combat, he was awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The Destroyer/ Frigate USS Roark (FF-1053) was named in his honor in 1967. A plaque on the USS Roark quotes from a letter Lt. Roark sent his wife. “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. This is what the Founding Fathers stood for.”
Provided by his son, LCDR Bill Roark.
Designated Naval Aviator on April 9, 1962, he joined Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY ·FIVE and in December that year transferred to Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY. THREE, operating off the USS CORAL SEA. He was killed in action on April 7, 1965 off the shore of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam following a bombing mission from the USS CORAL SEA. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. The citation for the latter follows in part: Distinguished Flying Cross: "For heroism ... on April 7, 1965 as a jet attack pilot in Attack Squadron ONE FIVE THREE, aboard the USS CORAL SEA (CVA-43). during operations against enemy aggressor forces in Viet Nam. Completing several successful attacks against military targets along a coastal highway in North Viet Nam when his flight was taken under concentrated fire by numerous antiaircraft and automatic gun positions, Lieutenant ROARK commenced an attack against the gun emplacements despite the withering antiaircraft fire directed at him. When his ai rcraft was struck by hostile fire, he flew his disabled craft toward the water and successfully ejected, follOWing which he was fired upon continuously during his parachute descent, and after reaching the water. The intense barrage of antiaircraft, automatic weapons and mortar fi re directed onto the water by the enemy prevented helicopter rescue of Lieutenant ROARK, who had been mortally wounded .. . " In addition to the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart Medal, Lieutenant ROARK had the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Vietnam area of operations)
Class of 1960 Memorial Scholarship
The Class of 1960 Memorial Scholarship honors the sacrifice and bravery of our classmates, Donnie Lee Darrow, Alexander McIver Jr., William Marshall Roark, and Martin Nelson Tull, who were killed in action while in the service of our country.
The scholarship will be managed by the Athletic and Scholarship Division of the U. S. Naval Academy Foundation, and will be provided to a prospective Midshipman who will benefit from a year of study at a prestigious prep school prior to entrance to the Naval Academy. The selection of the candidate will be made by the Dean of Admissions of the Academy. The first recipient of the scholarship will be in 2012.
Letters announcing the scholarship have been sent to the families of these four classmates killed during the Viet Nam war. The following letter of appreciation was addressed to our Class President:
Thank you and all of the class of 1960 for honoring my father, Donnie Darrow, Alexander McIver, and Martin Tull, with the establishment of this new scholarship. It means a great deal to me and my family.
I know that I speak for all of my family that we are truly blessed by the friendship and warmth given to us over the years. We are humbled by the service and character of the men of Super ’60.
Name of Award
Distinguished Flying Cross
Details behind Award:
Awarded posthumously for actions during the Vietnam War
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant William Marshall Roark (NSN: 0-641458), United States Navy, for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as pilot in Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE (VA-153) aboard U.S.S. CORAL SEA (CVA-43), during operations in the Vietnam on 7 April 1965. Completing several successful attacks against military targets along a coastal highway in North Vietnam, his flight was taken under concentrated fire by numerous anti-aircraft and automatic gun positions. Lieutenant Roark attacked the gun emplacements despite the fire directed at him. When his aircraft was struck by hostile fire, he flew the disabled jet toward the water and successfully ejected. He was fired upon continuously during his parachute descent and after reaching the water. The intense barrage of anti-aircraft, automatic weapons and mortar fire directed onto the water by the enemy prevented helicopter rescue of Lieutenant Roark, who was fatally wounded. His cool courage in the face of intense enemy opposition was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
General Orders: All Hands (March 1966)
Action Date: April 7, 1965
Company: Attack Squadron 153 (VA-153)
Division: U.S.S. Coral Sea (CVA-43)