Delwyn ‘Mike’ Roark
1941 ~ 2021
Captain Mike Roark, age 80, died on October 31, 2021 after a long battle with dementia. Mike was born on Feb. 24, 1941 and was raised near Hoopeston, IL.
As a young man in high school, Mike was known to be an excellent student and to have earned the Eagle Scout rank and Order of the Arrow member. His college studies were at Eastern Illinois University at Charleston, IL where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Mathematics. Having completed a challenging college program, Mike was ready to take on the USN Aviation Officer Candidate Program (AOC) at NAS Pensacola. After commissioning Mike began pilot training with at NAS Pensacola (class 5-64). The bulk of Mike’s flight training was at Saufley Field.
Having received his ‘wings of gold,’ Mike underwent transition training required to fly the Lockheed P-3 Orion. He was thereafter assigned to VP-19 at NAS Moffett, CA. VP-19 maintained rotation squadrons at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. From Iwakuni Mike flew patrols as a pilot and in time P-3 Aircraft Commander (A/C). Given the P-3 had a large crew of 12, his responsibilities were considerable to meet the challenges of conducting in extensive patrols in Western Pacific waters.
Life at MCAS Iwakuni wasn’t all military flying. In 1968 Mike and Susan (Sollid) were married on station at MCAS Iwakuni. This began a good and enduring relationship.
Mike was deployed from MCAS Iwakuni when the spy ship USS Pueblo (AGER-2) was attacked and captured by North Korean forces on 23 January 1968. This event would become known as the "Pueblo incident" or alternatively, as the "Pueblo crisis." Mike was directly involved in patrols associated with this event.
Early in 1969 Mike separated from active duty with the US Navy which set the scene for being hired by Northwest Airlines (NWA) on March 03, 1969. This was the beginning of a long and fruitful 32-year career. Mike began his career as a Second Officer on the Boeing 727. He thereafter followed the classic seat upgrade pattern to First Officer and then eventually Captain on the 727. He was qualified on the McDonald Douglas DC-10, an airplane he especially enjoyed. Mike’s final career upgrade was to Captain (IRC) on the classic Boeing 747. He put his well-worn flight bag into storage after retirement on February 24, 2001.
Mike was acclaimed by his family to be a wonderful husband and father. He accredited much to his wife Susan who had to hold down the household while he was ‘flying the line.’ The couple spent the entirety of Mike’s 32-year NWA career residing in Minnesota, most recent in Burnsville. Mike was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers, a sister, and two daughters Kelly and Kami. In addition to Susan, he is survived by his daughters Kim and Kari.
( - Bill Day)