World War II hero Earl L. “Jack” Roark Jr., 76, of Longview passed away Saturday, July 6, 2002, at home. Mr. Roark was preceded in death by his parents, Earl L. Roark Sr. and Nona Stacy Roark, and one son, Ronald Stacy Roark.
Mr. Roark was born Nov. 10, 1925, in Malvern, Ark. His family moved to Texas when he was 5. He attended school in Gilmer and White Oak and joined the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, serving with the 4th Marine Raider Battalion and 6th Marine Division. He carried a Browning automatic rifle and saw action on Guam and Okinawa. He was wounded in action several times and received two Purple Hearts. He received the Bronze Star for heroic achievement in connection with operations against the Japanese enemy on Okinawa Shima, Ryukyu Islands on April 15, 1945. As a Browning automatic rifleman, Private 1st Class Roark, acting alone and on his own initiative, repeatedly charged enemy cave emplacements and machine gun positions in the face of grenade and sniper fire to bring his automatic weapon into effective range, thus eliminating several enemy positions.
Private 1st Class Roark courageously placed himself in exposed positions so he could discover the source of the heavy fire directed upon his advancing platoon. Spotting these positions, he remained exposed, directing his fire and receiving return fire until he silenced the positions. When wounded by enemy grenade fragments and when out of ammunition, Private Roark stood by a wounded comrade, offering protection with his own grenades until the man was evacuated. He refused evacuation and remained with the company until the accomplishment of its mission. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Marine Corps.
After the war, Mr. Roark worked as a machinist and became a supervisor at U.S. Industries. He later owned Roark Machining Co., and he opened Roark Sporting Goods in Ore City when the Lake O’ the Pines was first developed. He owned several farms and bought and sold real estate, obtaining his broker’s license during that time. He learned to pilot a plane he co-owned with friends. He was an avid fisherman in the East Texas lakes and enjoyed deep sea fishing in the Texas Gulf Coast from Sabine Pass to Port Aransas.
He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Carol; one son, Reginald Stacy Roark, from a previous marriage; two stepchildren, Mark Buck and Kelli Neel; nine grandchildren; two sisters, Kathryn Taylor of Redwater; and Nona Jeanne Stansell of Colorado Springs, Colo.
Services will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 9, 2002, at Lakeview Funeral Home with the Rev. Jimmie Stripland officiating. Interment will follow at Lakeview Memorial Gardens.
Visitation is 6-8 p.m. Monday, July 8, at the funeral home.