Robert J. Rolak
1ST CLASS PETTY OFFICER, ROBERT J. ROLAK, Jr.
BY RUBY O. WOODS-ROBINSON, M.S.L.S.
Have you ever met anyone who served in all three services, U. S. Army, U. S. Air Force and the U. S. Navy? Robert J. Rolak, Jr. (R.J.) joined the Army in 1950. He went to Ft. Ord, California for four weeks of basic training. Shortly after being in the Army he was transferred to the Lackland Air Force Base San Antonio, Texas to continue his Basic Training. After Basic Training, he was sent to Pusan, Korea and up and down the western coast of Korea. He was placed into SAC, the Strategic Air Force Command.
This new commandoversaw the acquisition of a fleet of jet bombers and control systems that allowed for an unprecedented level of readiness. As the United States' principal means of delivering nuclear weapons, SAC built numerous new airfields and developed an elaborate system for midair refueling to enable their aircraft to strike at the Soviet Union.
The first aircraft Robert was assigned to once he entered the Air Force was the USAF B36, known as the Flying Cigar. This plane was unique because there were four jet engines on the back of the wings. This aircraft was the pride of General Curtis Emerson Le May;Father of the Strategic Air Command.
In 1953, Robert left military service for one year. In 1954, he received a beautiful engraved invitation from President Harry S. Truman inviting him to return to the military. The group he served with in the Air Force was disbanded. So Robert was sent to the Army where he signed up for the Airborne 504th and the 325th and was finally sent to the 11th Airborne, Battle Group, 187th Paratroopers. This was a very large unit that had everything to sustain themselves for thirty days. He was with this group for five years.
Robert’s Grandfather became ill and he was his Administrator, so he resigned his position with the Army. Less than sixty days later he attempted to enlist in the Army again and was denied. As he was leaving the Army Recruiting Station he met one of his old friends from the Army who had become a Navy Recruiter and he was recruited into Navy.
Robert has lived in many places, such as; Africa, India, England, Japan and around the Caribbean area. His first station was Norfolk, Virginia or Little Creek, where he was assigned to the 11th Airborne, Battle Group, 187th. At Little Creek he did his amphibian training
When you ask Robert about his military career he will say his rank went up and down twice, once in the Army and once in the Navy. Robert retired from the Navy as an E6, 1st Class Petty Officer in the Supply Corp after 15 years.
Robert was born in Houston, Texas but lived all over Texas, wherever his father found work. He was the younger brother of Gilbert Rolak who was also in the military and attained rank of 06, Colonel in the Air Force. He had three Uncles who served from the 1939 until the late fifties; one was in the Marine Corp, and retired as a Major. Another was flying PBY’s and had five of them shot out from under him and his Uncle was the only survivor. The third uncle joined the Canadian Air Force and then became a U S Marine Corp Instructor, teaching U. S. military personnel how to use the English rockets.
Robert lives in the Armed Forces Retirement Home-Gulfport, because his Uncle had friends living in the U.S. Naval Home and he would visit them with his Uncle. When Robert became eligible he applied and moved here in 1993. Robert is the only one left in his family and the Armed Forces Retirement Home has been an ideal place for him. He has met a lot of wonderful people at the Armed Forces Retirement Home Gulfport.
Robert is Vice President of FRA Branch 307, Old Navy Branch and in January, 2013 he was honored with a forty year membership pin.