ROARK, JAMES DAVID
Name: James David Roark
Rank/Branch: E5/US Navy Reserves
Unit: USS WILLIAM V. PRATT (DLG 13)
Date of Birth: 09 December 1941
Home City of Record: Abingdon VA
Date of Loss: 12 November 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam/Over Water
Loss Coordinates: 185550N 1061804E (XF370935)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: John D. Cayce (missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 April 1990 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.
SYNOPSIS: Ship Fitter Petty Officer James D. Roark and Seaman Petty Officer
John D. Cayce were assigned to the USS WILLIAM V. PRATT (DLG 13). On
November 12, 1967, they were performing their duties as part of a helicopter
detail onboard the ship in the Gulf of Tonkin. The ship was rolling in heavy
seas when a 20-foot wave swept over the main deck and carried three men
The USS PRATT immediately turned to recover the men at the same time
requested a helicopter from another ship to assist. One man was quickly
spotted and rescued. Five additional ships and two helicopters joined the
search for the remaining men. An extensive search failed to locate either
Cayce or Roark.
During the period of July through September 1973, an over water/at sea
Casualty Resolution Operation was conducted to determine the feasibility of
expanding search operations to be used in cases such as the loss of Roark
and Cayce. Based on the lack of any positive results whatsoever, the at-sea
operations were terminated. It was decided that personnel lost at sea could
not be recovered.
Roark and Cayce died an unfortunate accidental death. The fact that they
died an accidental death in the midst of war is tragically ironic. They are
listed among the missing with honor, because no body was never found to be
returned to the country they served.
Others who are missing do not have such clear cut cases. Some were known
captives; some were photographed as they were led by their guards. Some were
in radio contact with search teams, while others simply disappeared.
Since the war ended, over 250,000 interviews have been conducted with those
who claim to know about Americans still alive in Southeast Asia, and several
million documents have been studied. U.S. Government experts cannot seem to
agree whether Americans are there alive or not. Distracters say it would be
far too politically difficult to bring the men they believe to be alive
home, and the U.S. is content to negotiate for remains.
Over 1000 eye-witness reports of living American prisoners were received by
1989. Most of them are still classified. If, as the U.S. seems to believe,
the men are all dead, why the secrecy after so many years? If the men are
alive, why are they not home?