Technical Sgt. Marshal Roberts, of the Oklahoma Air National Guard, received a posthumous hero’s welcome during a funeral procession from Tulsa International Airport to Floral Haven Cemetery.
Roberts was the first member of the Oklahoma Air Guard killed in action. He deployed from the 138th Fighter Wing with the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron in January, and died in a rocket attack, March 11th.
According to the Oklahoma Air National Guard, Roberts' wife Kristie is also a member of the 138th. He is survived by one daughter, Paityn.
The body was escorted to Floral Haven by family members and supporters, and hours before they arrived, the streets were lined with people. The isolation orders of COVID-19 kept most people at a distance from each other, but many wanted to be close to the road as the family was passing by. Doug Murdock, a Vietnam veteran, said "I'm sorry for them, but I'm proud of their family."
Flags were plentiful along 129th East Avenue, for the final leg of the trip. Many of those waiting felt they had a connection, though most didn't know Roberts, who was a young father and husband from Owasso.
Army Reservist Sgt. Dominic Canseco was along the road. "It's an honor for me to stand here and wait for him to come home."
Friends of the family were overwhelmed at the support. "There's a ton, and that's incredible. And Marshal deserves it" said Tashi Lee, a family friend. Some veterans along the route were visibly upset.
"I don't know what to say," said Darrel Kent, a Vietnam veteran, "My heart goes out to the family."
Cindy Ott was waving a flag, representing her two sons and husband, who all have served. She said deaths in combat hit home, as she cried for the family. "They will get through this. We're going to support them, we're going to pray for them, and we're going to love them."
Police motorcycles led the hearse, and dozens of Patriot Guard riders followed, with cars from area law enforcement agencies filling out the procession.
A family member, who waited at the cemetery for the procession, appreciated the show of support.
Elizabeth Jenkins said, "He was an amazing man, and he deserves a hero’s welcome home."