The military is honoring two Oklahoma airmen with the Purple Heart medals for their sacrifice and service in Iraq.
Technical Sergeants Ariel White and Marshal Roberts were in Taji, Iraq when their base was hit by multiple rockets on March 11, 2020.
Roberts died from his injuries while White survived.
"It's very bittersweet,” White said. “I'm proud of my service and happy my family and friends get to see this side of me, but the occasion, I wish it was different. There's a whole other family that isn't celebrating as much today.”
Adjutant General Mike Thompson said the Purple Heart medal has significant meaning to all of those in the military.
"Someone is going to a country — to a combat zone — and been injured defending our country is just remarkable to think about," Thompson said.
Thompson said there have been 19 soldiers with the Oklahoma Army National Guard killed during the War on Iraq, but Technical Sergeant Roberts was the first airman killed.
The engineering building on the base in Tulsa is now named the Technical Sergeant Marshal D. Roberts Engineering Installation Complex.
"We don’t want anyone to forget who he was, and what his service represented, and so from here to eternity when they drive by this building, they'll know what this means," Thompson said.
Last March, White said she was just doing what she signed up to do. She wishes more than anything that her friend and fellow airman was here with her today.
"Definitely that. I wish he was still here,” White said. “I mean, I would do anything to not have to be doing this.”