The name of a fallen National Guardsman from Whitley County, who died last year, will be added to the Kentucky National Guard Memorial during a Memorial Day ceremony.
The Kentucky National Guard will host its first ever Memorial Day observance on May 30 during a ceremony starting at 2 p.m. at the Kentucky National Guard Memorial, which is located at the entrance to Boone National Guard Center (100 Minuteman Parkway) in Frankfort. The event is free and open to the public.
Eighteen names are being added to the Memorial and are scheduled to be in place by the event, including that of Staff Sergeant Jonathan David “Ro” Roark, 34, of Rockholds, who died in a vehicle accident on I-75 on May 19, 2015.
Roark, who was born in Pineville, was a full time employee of the Kentucky National Guard serving as the Human Resources Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, (HHC) 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry in Barbourville.
Roark was returning from Frankfort and was on Title 32 AGR (Active Guard Reserve) status driving in a government vehicle, a 2010 Chevrolet HHR, and was involved in a chain reaction collision with six other commercial vehicles on I-75.
Roark had slowed down or stopped due to construction traffic delays backing up from further down the interstate about 1 p.m. The accident occurred about five miles south of the Berea exit heading southbound on I-75 at the 71-mile marker.
Also killed in the crash was the driver of a FedEx Ground commercial vehicle, Toby Caudill, 41, of Glenford, Ohio. When two tractor-trailers hit each other, Roark’s car caught in the middle of the chain-reaction.
The Chevrolet HHR (Heritage High Roof) was a retro-styled compact station wagon marketed as a multi-purpose crossover vehicle.
Roark served in the Kuwait/Iraq Theatre of Operations from July 24, 2011, to November 29, 2011.
Roark’s awards and decorations include: Army Commendation Medal; Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Iraq Campaign Med with Campaign Star; Non Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device. Roark was posthumously promoted from Sergeant to Staff Sergeant.
The addition of Roark’s name and the 17 others will bring the total names on the Memorial to 251 men and women, who have fallen in the line of duty since 1912. Families of the fallen are encouraged to attend and be recognized at the event.
To read the biographies of the fallen visit http://www.guardmemorial.com/html/our_fallen.html.