Sgt. Anund C. Roark, USArmy, Medal of Honor, Vietnam War
Sgt. Anund C. Roark, USArmy, Medal of Honor, Vietnam War

BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D.    Anund Charles Roark was born in Vallejo, California on February 17, 1948. He joined the Army in Los Angeles, California.

In 1968 Roark was serving with Company C, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division in the Republic of Vietnam near the city of Kontum. 

Roark was the point squad leader of a team that had been given the mission of rescuing 11 men in a hilltop observation post that was under heavy attack by an enemy force that outnumbered them by 10 to 1. When the lead troops of the relief force reached the overwhelmed observation post, they immediately came under intense automatic weapons fire from enemy-occupied bunkers. This temporarily halted their movement. Without hesitation, Roark maneuvered his squad, repeatedly exposing himself to withering enemy fire, to hurl grenades and direct the fire of his squad to gain fire superiority and cover the withdrawal of the outpost and evacuation of its casualties. Frustrated in their effort to overrun the position, the enemy swept the hilltop with small arms and volleys of grenades.

Seeing a grenade land in the midst of his men, Roark, with complete disregard for his safety, hurled himself upon the grenade.  Roark smothered the blast of the enemy-thrown hand grenade with his body, protecting his fellow soldiers at the cost of his own life. Roark, aged 20 at his death, was buried in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California.

Although U.S. Army information is sketchy, apparently  no remains were recovered at that time. On May 31, 1968, remains were recovered which were given to the U. S. Military Than San Nhut Vietnam Mortuary on June 2, 1968. Eleven years later, on November 11, 1979, these remains were identified as being those of Roark, and returned to his family for burial. According to the Army’s DD-1300 (death certificate), however, the remains were identified on the same day they were recovered – May 31, 1968.

There have been nearly 10,000 reports received by the U.S. relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia. Many authorities who have examined this information (largely classified), have reluctantly come to the conclusion that many Americans are still alive in Southeast Asia.  As long as reports continue to be received which indicate Americans are still alive in Indochina, we can only regard the return of remains as a politically expedient way to show “progress” on accounting for American POW/MIAs. As long as reports continue to be received, we must wonder how many are alive. The only issue is that one living man. We must bring them home before there are only remains to negotiate for.

Medal of Honor

Anund C. Roark

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Roark distinguished himself by extraordinary gallantry while serving with Company C. Sgt. Roark was the point squad leader of a small force which had the mission of rescuing 11 men in a hilltop observation post under heavy attack by a company-size force, approximately 1,000 meters from the battalion perimeter. As lead elements of the relief force reached the besieged observation post, intense automatic weapons fire from enemy occupied bunkers halted their movement. Without hesitation, Sgt. Roark maneuvered his squad, repeatedly exposing himself to withering enemy fire to hurl grenades and direct the fire of his squad to gain fire superiority and cover the withdrawal of the outpost and evacuation of its casualties. Frustrated in their effort to overrun the position, the enemy swept the hilltop with small arms and volleys of grenades. Seeing a grenade land in the midst of his men, Sgt. Roark, with complete disregard for his safety, hurled himself upon the grenade, absorbing its blast with his body. Sgt. Roark’s magnificent leadership and dauntless courage saved the lives of many of his comrades and were the inspiration for the successful relief of the outpost. His actions which culminated in the supreme sacrifice of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit on himself and the U.S. Army.

Until November 11, 1979, the name of Sgt. Anund C. Roark was on the Walls of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.  When his remains were identified, they were returned to his family.   Roark is now buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California.

The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external.  Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.

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