Cherokee among servicemen killed in Iraq rocket attack
Cherokee Nation citizen and Oklahoma Air National Guardsman Marshal D. Roberts, 28, of Owasso, seen in this undated photo, was killed during a rocket attack in Iraq on March 11, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. COURTESY
IRAQ – Cherokee Nation citizen Marshal D. Roberts was one of two American soldiers killed March 11 in a rocket attack in Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, which released his name March 12.
Roberts, 28, of Owasso, was a staff sergeant in the Oklahoma Air National Guard assigned to the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron, 138th Fighter Wing, headquartered in Tulsa. He was deployed in late 2019 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and served as the 219th’s senior personnel noncommissioned officer.
“We are devastated by the loss of Staff Sgt. Roberts who served selflessly and with honor,” Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, adjutant general for Oklahoma, said. “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.”
Col. Michael Meason, commander of the 138th Fighter Wing, described Roberts as “a dedicated Airman, mentor and leader.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Staff Sgt. Roberts’ family and friends as we stand with them through this difficult time,” Meason said. “They are and always will be part of the 138th family.”
Roberts, who enlisted in May 2014, is the first Oklahoma Air National Guardsman killed in action and the 20th who has died while deployed overseas since Sept. 11, 2001, according to the Oklahoma National Guard.
“The Cherokee Nation is truly saddened by the loss of Cherokee citizen and warrior Staff Sgt. Marshal Roberts,” CN Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “The Cherokee Nation holds in high esteem our active military and veterans who put everything on the line for our freedom. We will forever be grateful and continue to honor Staff Sgt. Roberts and his family’s sacrifices.”
At a March 13 press conference, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, said that Roberts, a U.S. Army soldier from California and a United Kingdom medic were killed in the March 11 rocket attack at Camp Taji in Iraq. The servicemen were killed, McKenzie said, “during a rocket attack by an Iranian-backed militia, Kataib Hezbollah, on Camp Taji, which is an Iraqi base that hosts coalition forces engaged in the fight against ISIS.”
U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Oklahoma Dist. 1) and Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) released a joint statement on Roberts’ passing.
“On Wednesday night, we lost an American hero,” Inhofe said. “Kay and I are praying for his wife, Krissy, as well as his family, friends and the entire Oklahoma National Guard. It is a somber reminder that the enemy Sgt. Roberts fought against is real and seeks to harm our nation and people. I am humbled he made the ultimate sacrifice to protect us back here at home. We will not forget it.”