Oklahoma congressman honors fallen Oklahoma Air National Guardsman

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma congressman says he is offering condolences and gratitude to the family of an Oklahoma Air National Guardsman who was killed in Iraq earlier this month.

Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts, 28, of Owasso, was killed while deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Roberts was a member of the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron, 138th Fighter Wing, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He served as the 219th’s senior personnel non-commissioned officer while deployed.

Oklahoma Air National Guardsman, Staff Sgt. Marshal Roberts, was killed Wednesday, March 11, 2020, during a rocket attack in Iraq. Roberts served with the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron, 138th Fighter Wing, which is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (Courtesy photo by the Roberts family)
Oklahoma Air National Guardsman, Staff Sgt. Marshal Roberts, was killed Wednesday, March 11, 2020, during a rocket attack in Iraq. Roberts served with the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron, 138th Fighter Wing, which is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (Courtesy photo by the Roberts family)

“Oklahomans all across the state mourn the loss of Staff Sgt. Roberts,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt earlier this month. “Today serves as a reminder of the many brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to defend our state and country. Our prayers are with Staff Sgt. Roberts’ friends and family during this time, and the state is prepared to offer any support possible.”

“We are devastated by the loss of Staff Sgt. Roberts who served selflessly and with honor,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, adjutant general for Oklahoma. “I ask that every Oklahoman pray for the family of this fallen patriot and keep them in your thoughts in the days and weeks ahead.

“Our casualty assistance team is working with the family to help them through this terrible time,” Thompson added. “We also have teams available for service members in need of assistance.”

Roberts, who enlisted in May 2014, is the first Oklahoma Air National Guardsman killed in action and the 20th Oklahoma National Guardsman who has died while deployed overseas since Sept. 11, 2001.

“With the passing of Staff Sgt. Roberts, the 138th family has lost a dedicated Airman, mentor and leader,” said Col. Michael Meason, commander of the 138th Fighter Wing. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Staff Sgt. Roberts’ family and friends as we stand with them through this difficult time. They are and always will be part of the 138th family.”

The 219th Engineering Installation Squadron deploys worldwide to establish communications systems and ensure they remain functional. They deployed in late 2019.

On Wednesday, Sen. James Lankford spoke on the Senate floor to honor the life of TSgt. Roberts.

This morning, technical sergeant Marshal Roberts of Oklahoma came home. It was a dignified transfer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, earlier this morning. There were a lot of people that wanted to be there but because of COVID-19 could not. But a lot of other folks were.

Tech sergeant Marshal Roberts was killed in Iraq Wednesday, March 11, when his unit was engaged by indirect enemy fire while they were sleeping. He was 17 miles north of Baghdad. He was deployed with the 219th engineering installation squadron, a subordinate unit of the 138th out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was in the process of building communications infrastructure as part of the fight against ISIS. The operation that Roberts served in, Operation Inherent Resolve, has been a vital part of protecting our nation and bringing stability to the region.

Roberts enlisted in the Oklahoma Air National Guard in May of 2014. He was killed in action as the first Oklahoma Air National Guardsman who has died, but the 20th Oklahoma National Guardsman who has died since September 11, 2001. The perpetual comment that I heard from the folks that I talked to about Tech. Sergeant Roberts was he was one of the good guys. He was always known for having a smile on his face, was selfless.

He served others all the way to the end. The night of the attack, there was a truck launcher that fired off 30 katyusha rockets at their camp as they were sleeping. Eighteen of those rockets landed inside the camp facility. As the noise happened around him, Sergeant Roberts told his fellow Airmen to get up, get going, get their body armor on, and as he stepped away to go warn other people to do the same, a rocket came. But some of the people standing right there that he had told them to get their body armor on, he saved their life.

He was posthumously promoted to Technical Sergeant. He was born January 29, 1992, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Marshal’s parents, Sally and Randy raised him in Owosso, Oklahoma, where he graduated from high school. He has a beautiful daughter Paityn, who has been the love of his life. November 15, 2018, Marshal was married to Krissy Harris, and they were both in the 138th. Deep love for their country and their obvious love for each other was a significant part of the 138th.

Everyone knew them, knew what they were like, and were glad to be called their friends. He was a brother, he was a son, he was a father, he was a husband, and our state and our nation grieves him today coming home.

One story about he and Krissy, though. They met and started dating as I mentioned while they were both serving with the 138th. She had been in the 138th for 15 years. So she had actually be there longer. They dated four years before they got married in 2018. They had been married just less than two years. They were both avid football fans, but there was a major problem. Krissy is a Kansas [City] Chiefs fan, and Marshal is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. And that’s a problem definitely. And he fixed that by proposing at the Steelers-Chiefs game.

I have to tell you, the family for the folks that stood there today in Tulsa as he came home, they found a way to be able to love on each other. They found a way to be able to serve each other, and they are still sacrificing for the country. Because the COVID-19 that’s happening right now, they’ve chosen not to have a public memorial service, and they are delaying that time until it’s safer for all of the family and for all the community to be able to participate. Literally their family continues the grief in the wait, one more sacrifice for their country and for their community.

Today all of Oklahoma is using a hashtag to share messages with the family—#TSgtMarshalRoberts—to be able to share a message of support and love for the family. Our nation is grateful, and we grieve with you for the loss today. Thank you to him and his family for wearing the cloth of our country and for doing everything that our nation asked of him until the very end. Our nation lives in freedom because of folks like Marshal Roberts, and we will continue to stand with Krissy and Paityn and with their family. 

TSgt. Roberts’ family will not be holding a public memorial service at this time due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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