Oklahomans honor fallen air guardsman killed in Iraq rocket attack

Oklahoma Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Rebecca Imwalle

A memorial service is held for Tech. Sgt. Marshal Roberts, 138th Fighter Wing, in Claremore, Oklahoma, on May 16, 2020. While deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve with the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron, Roberts was killed when his base was struck by multiple rockets on March 11, 2020. (Oklahoma Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Rebecca Imwalle)

CLAREMORE, Okla. (KFOR) – Family members of one Oklahoma airman are honoring his sacrifice this Memorial Day.

Tech Sgt. Marshal Roberts was just 28-year-old when he died on March 11 from injuries sustained during a rocket attack while deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

He is the first Oklahoma Air Guardsman killed in combat.

“The night of Marshal’s death, when the rockets where coming in, he took cover with a friend. As they heard the commotion, they discussed running to a bunker for cover,” said Chief Master Sgt. Derrick Hildebrant, 138th Civil Engineer Squadron, 138th F,. “Not knowing if they would make it, Marshal told his fellow Airman to go and get her [body] armor on. As that friend went and got her [body] armor on, the rocket landed. Marshal lost his life that day, but heroically, he saved another.”

Following his death, Roberts was posthumously promoted from staff sergeant to technical sergeant, which is the rank held by the organization’s technical expert. They continuously strive to further their development as technicians, supervisors, leaders and mentors through professional development opportunities.

During the promotion ceremony, Col. Robin Cavanaugh, 138th FW, spoke on the enlisted force structure and what it means to be a “tech sergeant.”

“Marshal had the utmost trust, not only from me but from his leadership, peers and subordinates,” Col. Robin Cavanaugh, 138th FW, said. “He was a trusted confidant. I had the utmost confidence in Marshal and his ability to perform…not only at a technical level, but far beyond. He was an exceptional Airman. He was often the calm voice of reason and embodied the whole Airman concept, always striving to improve himself, not only professionally but personally and spiritually. He was a mentor and a friend to everyone he came in contact with. I had zero doubt that Marshal could have accomplished anything, enlisted or officer, that he set his mind to.”

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