soldier has local ties
Wanda English Burnett, Editor
The quick thinking actions of 24-year-old Spc. Brandon Rork spared
hundreds of lives and left him hailed as a hero by numerous media
outlets in the Cincinnati area.
On duty in Iraq serving in the Armys 10th Mountain Division
out of Ft. Drum, NY, the former Osgood resident used his sharp
eye and cat like reflexes to shoot and wound a would-be suicide
The truck that was loaded with 8,000 pounds of explosives could
have wiped out the entire base where Spc. Rork was stationed,
according to his wife, Lula Gabbard Rork of Sunman. The driver
was equipped with 15 pounds of explosives himself, designed to
do major damage
Clayton and Ann Rork, parents of the alert soldier, noted that
their son told them there were lots of trucks that come and go
close to the base, but this one was different. Just as he could
pick out minute detail in an action movie as a teenager, Spc.
Rork knew the immediate danger and acted on it.
When he phoned his wife on June 10, the same day the incident
took place, she could hear explosions in the background. She was
told they could only detonate 17 percent of the explosives loaded
on the truck at one time. It was a horrific sound that brought
the reality of war across the world into her home.
Spc. Rork knew exactly how to respond and acted within seconds
to save the life of the one who tried to take his. While the suicide
bomber suffered gunshot wounds, his life was spared and he is
reported to be in good condition.
I wasnt surprised at all, said his wife, who
further added his actions are simply a reflection of the great
person he is. He was matter of fact and frankly doesnt think
he did anything out of the ordinary, he was just doing his
job which is a mortar man. He shoots accurately to take
out enemy targets that are endangering US troops.
When the soldier called his parents, he down played the scenario
to his mother, he didnt want her to worry. But, he was straight
up with his dad. He told me what happened and then let me
break it easy to his mother, commented Clayton. Ann, who
was near tears throughout the interview with the Osgood Journal,
said she knew what a close call this was for her only son. The
Rorks also have a daughter, Alishia Byrd, who is a year younger
than her brother.
Although the Rorks now live in Cincinnati to be close to work,
they have made their home in Ripley County much of their 25 years
of marriage. Spc. Rork attended Jac-Cen-Del elementary and has
strong family and friendship ties to the Osgood area. He
loves Osgood and wants to move back there, noted his wife.
The soldiers mother was employed at the Division of Family
and Children (DFC) in Ripley County for a number of years and
several relatives including grandmother Betty and husband Richard
still live in Versailles. Other family members are aunts Sue Peck
and Shirley (husband Ray) Jones of Osgood; Bill and Lucille Hosmer
of Delaware, and many others. Another relative is a conservation
officer in Vevay, Steven Kinne. One uncle is a Navy recruiter,
Paul Eugene Rork Jr. and both he and his son Christopher (who
serves in the Navy), are graduates of JCD.
A very disciplined man himself, Clayton said advice he gave his
son before leaving for the military was to stay safe
and wear his wrist and ankle weights to stay alert. The senior
Rork is accomplished in martial arts and knows the importance
of discipline and training.
Brandons such an important part of our family...hes
really Ripley Countys son too, noted his mother, as
she shared the story so people who he knows and loves can share
in this special event in his life. His family, friends and
heart are in Ripley County, she shared.
An emotional plea was given by his mother who asks everyone to
support our troops fighting this increasingly unpopular war. If
you see a soldier in uniform, go up to them, thank them for what
they do, she asked.
Wife Lula agreed saying, Brandon is so very patriotic. Hes
the type of man who would do anything for anybody - he has a pure
heart. He lights up a room. She hasnt been able to
see that light much in the four years theyve been married
because hes been in the service for the past three years.
While she misses him like crazy, shes willing to make the
sacrifice because, this is what Brandon really wanted to
Clayton says his son follows the Rork familys motto from
Ireland serve and govern. The Rorks are proud of their
son, not just for his latest deed, but for who he is. The soldier
is described as someone who loved intensive training, never cuts
corners and gets the job done. Hes an artist and a wrestler
- tough, yet sensitive to the needs of others. He loves kick boxing,
and hopes to one day meet UFC kick boxer Rich Franklin.
In the three years hes served his country in the Army, Spc.
Rork has been deployed to Iraq twice. Just as this isnt
his first tour in the war torn country, it isnt his first
act of heroism. His dad tells a heart warming story about how
the soldier took time to interact with a little Iraqi boy and
get him the medical help he desperately needed. This happened
on his first tour where Spc. Rork learned the arabic language
on his own. This skill would be used to get this young child the
help he needed. Mother, father, and wife all agree, thats
just how Brandon is, ready to help others.
From his basic training at Ft. Benning, GA, to his first tour
and now second in Iraq, this soldier has excelled and has won
not only a host of medals, but the hearts of everyone he has contact
As his wife belted out the National Anthem on a Cincinnati radio
station Monday morning in honor of her courageous husband, she
wants the world to know what a wonderful man he is. Shes
also looking forward to the day he comes home and she can hold
him in her arms. For now, she makes her home in Sunman with her
parents, Brice and Linda Gabbard.
Those wanting to send well wishes to Spc. Brandon Rork may do
so through his wife by mailing cards or letters to: 13021 N. State
Road 101, Sunman, IN 47041.
Spc. Brandon Rork
WANDA ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
Pictured above are Spec. Brandon Rork's
parents, (standing) Clayton and Ann Rork. They now live
in Cincinnati, but were long time residents of Ripley County
where their son attended both Jac-Cen-Del and East Central
schools. On the ground in front of the tree she and other
family members decorated in honor of her husband, Brandon,
is Lula Gabbard Rork, who is looking forward to the day
her husband will come home.