Memorial for Mark Root

In Honor of Mark Root
170th Assault Helicopter Company
Pleiku - Kontum
Serving From 1969-1970

By SP5 Dennis Durak

My recent contacts with members of the 170th Assault Helicopter Company led me to an attempt to renew my relationship with Mark Root. Unfortunately upon contacting his wife, Beth I learned that Mark had passed away on his ranch in California. His wife Beth and four children, Jennifer, Ryan, Lori and Garret, survive him.
I felt there was a need to put on record just what Mark meant to me, and so many others in the 170th Assault Helicopter Company.
So I am honored to write this memorial remembering such a well-respected man, and my best friend during Vietnam, Mark Root. Mark was large in stature, but humble with a great disposition. He was known as a gentle giant and was rarely seen without his
quirky trademark smile.
As a religious man, he frequently quoted verses from the bible to put life's challenges into perspective. I was lucky enough to have worked, bunked and fought with Mark for over nine months. In working helicopter maintenance, it was apparent that Mark was a skilled mechanic who quickly earned the respect of the pilots, crewmembers, and those he worked along side.
We spent many late nights, sometimes in tents with only a flashlight working on aircraft so they could fly the next day. Mark was dedicated to his work as well as his fellow soldier. In addition to maintenance, Mark and I worked guard duty together. Instead of the typical one-man stations, Mark and I pulled double shifts together to keep each other company and awake. At these times I learned a lot about Mark as a person. He often spoke of the things he loved in life; his fiancée Beth (who later became his wife) the joy he took from fishing, hunting and nature in general, and his deep belief in religion. I believe that it was Mark's faith that kept him so grounded in a chaotic time. While most of us there were just young men trying to survive the best we could, Mark was able to see the bigger picture. He was our stability and rock.
I suppose one negative aspect of being Mark's roommate was all of the late night knocks on the door we received. Somehow, Mark became the guy that everyone could talk to, and no matter what time of night, or how little sleep, Mark always made himself available to listen. With the awesome responsibility we were entrusted with, as young men, we all needed someone to listen to us and truly understand. So, we confided in Mark and were able to leave with a sense of reassurance, which was no small feat. Whether I was to fly a mission or go to the flight line, I remember one phrase in particular that Mark frequently told me. He said, "Dennis, believe in the Lord, and things will work out."
Mark Root was a unique individual who was loved by all those he came in contact with.
I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with him, and all he taught me.
I know I am not alone when I say that he is missed.

170th Web Page Prepared for Dennis Durak...
His Words, Layout and Photos, with my Scanner and Computer Skills (Henry)

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