Hero 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 Army’s 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 bomber.
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 wasn’t 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 doesn’t 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 didn’t 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 soldier’s 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.

“Brandon’s such an important part of our family...he’s really Ripley County’s 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. He’s the type of man who would do anything for anybody - he has a pure heart. He lights up a room.” She hasn’t been able to see that light much in the four years they’ve been married because he’s been in the service for the past three years. While she misses him like crazy, she’s willing to make the sacrifice because, “this is what Brandon really wanted to do.”

Clayton says his son follows the Rork family’s 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. He’s 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 he’s served his country in the Army, Spc. Rork has been deployed to Iraq twice. Just as this isn’t his first tour in the war torn country, it isn’t 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, “that’s 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 with.
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. She’s 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

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.