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William Marshall Roark
Distinguished Flying Cross Recipient and Namesake of USS Roark

William Marshall Roark

William Marshall Roark
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Distinguished Flying Cross Recipient and Namesake of USS Roark
Was Military officer Soldier Officer
From United States of America Vietnam
Field Military
Gender male
Birth 23 October 1928, Sioux City, USA
Death 7 April 1965, North Vietnam (aged 36 years)
Star sign Scorpio
United States Naval Academy
Purple Heart  
The details (from wikipedia)


William Marshall Roark (23 October 1938 – 7 April 1965) was a United States Navy aviator, Lieutenant, recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and namesake of USS Roark. Roark was the first US Navy ship to be named for an American Killed in Action during the Vietnam War.


William Marshall Roark was born 23 October 1938 in Sioux City, Iowa to Frank F. Roark (1906 – 1994) and Madge E. Roark (1909 – 1997). He grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and attended Omaha Central High School. He was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1956, he graduated and was commissioned ensign on 8 June 1960 and advanced to the rank of lieutenant, 1 June 1964.

He attended the naval flight school at Pensacola, Florida, and Corpus Christi, Texas, and subsequently reported for duty in Attack Squadron 153 on board USS Coral Sea. Lieutenant Roark was killed in action 7 April 1965 while flying an A-4 Skyhawk on a bombing mission over North Vietnam.

Roark 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.


The United States Navy ship USS Roark was named in his honor. His mother and his widow were ship sponsors for Roark.

Distinguished Flying Cross citation

Distinguished Flying Cross

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)


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.

— William M. Roark, in his last letter to his wife.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 14 Jun 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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