"Based, I'm told, on your recommendation, admiral. Thank you."
Commander Sonak was a Vulcan Starfleet officer in the 23rd century. He was in the engineering and maintenance branches of the Operations division. Upon the recommendation of Rear Admiral James T. Kirk, he received an appointment to the refitted USS Enterprise as the starship's new science officer.
Per the request of Captain Will Decker, he was at Starfleet Headquarters for a final science briefing before he went to the Enterprise. When Kirk learned this, he assured Sonak that the Enterprise would leave in twelve hours, not twenty as Sonak believed, and ordered the Vulcan to report to him on the starship in an hour. Sonak was surprised by the order, as Kirk was not supposed to be on the Enterprise.
Sonak and a female crewmember were killed in a transporter accident shortly before the starship left to deal with the V'ger crisis in the mid-2270s. The ship's transporter was 'temporarily' out of order that time; Janice Rand operated the transporter when she saw their silhouettes being deformed, and despite Kirk's attempts to complete the transfer, they disappeared. When Kirk asked Starfleet if they ended up with their disfigured masses, a transporter operator at Starfleet Headquarters said what they received mercifully didn't live long. Kirk instructed him to contact Sonak's family through the Vulcan embassy to extend his sympathies.
Discussing Sonak's replacement with Decker, Kirk expressed his wish to have a Vulcan at the position, if possible. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
|Science officers of the starships Enterprise|
|Enterprise NX-01:||T'Pol • Unnamed|
|USS Enterprise:||Spock • Connolly • Chekov • Sonak • Decker • Saavik|
|USS Enterprise-D:||Swenson • Data • Taitt|
|ISS Enterprise NX-01:||T'Pol|
|ISS Enterprise NCC-1701:||Spock|
|USS Enterprise:||Spock • 0718 • Carol Marcus|
Background information Edit
The unnamed crewmember with Sonak was Vice Admiral Lori Ciana (β) according to the novelization, and the novelization stated that the transporter inverted them: they formed with their internal organs outside their bodies. Director Robert Wise indicated in the DVD commentary for the Director's Cut edition that this woman was to be the ship's navigator, and that Ilia was a last-minute replacement.
In the script for the Star Trek: Phase II pilot episode "In Thy Image", which subsequently evolved into Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the character of Commander Ronak was virtually the same as Sonak and his manner of death was very similar, albeit significantly less gruesome, with the transporter accident simply causing his pattern to disperse instead of rematerialising him in a deformed state.