FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Baton Rouge, La. native Pvt. Derek Roark enlisted in the Army right before the cut off age, to fulfill his desire to serve his country. Now a part of 2nd Battalion 87th, Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), Roark participated in a live-fire exercise, Nov. 19 at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Roark is an indirect fire infantryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company and prior to enlisting in Army at age 34, he owned and operated his own construction company.

"I was going to join right out of high school, but life kept getting in the way with owning my own company," said Roark. "I then decided the time came for me to join the Army, so I went to the recruiter's office to see what I could do."

Roark originally purchased his company from his father in 2008 and the two of them started installing trim on houses. The company eventually expanded into the complete construction of houses from the foundation to the finishing touches ready for sale.

"I purchased the company to give my dad an opportunity to retire from construction," said Roark.

Roark still asked his father for advice and guidance from time to time while he ran the company and eventually asked him to take charge of his company while he joined the service.

In January of 2018, Roark shipped off to Fort Benning, Ga. for One Station Unit Training. After completing OSUT he received orders to Fort Drum to begin his long-awaited opportunity to serve his country.

Roark chose to be an indirect fire infantryman because combat related jobs were the experience he was looking for in the Army. As soon as he arrived to Fort Drum, he got his chance and was deployed to Afghanistan.

According to Roark, his future in the Army is undecided. He is looking forward to the birth of his twins in February and if he does decide to leave the military, he will be taking the skills and discipline he has learned in the Army, back to his construction company.