Update: Camp Taji Deaths
The Department of Defense identified the Camp Taji deaths from the barrage of rocket attacks on March 11 as: Army Spc. Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias, 27, and Air Force Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts, 28. The UK death was given as UK Medic Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon, 26. Fourteen others were wounded in the rocket barrage. The US conducted air strikes on Kataib Hezbollah facilities in retaliation for the attack.
— Inherent Resolve (@CJTFOIR) March 13, 2020
Beyond those killed, we want to recognize the servicemembers and civilians wounded in action including coalition members.
– Gen Frank McKenzie, CDR CENTCOM pic.twitter.com/6YiQTJkhsr
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) March 13, 2020
Camp Taji deaths
Both Americans were posthumously promoted to the above listed ranks. The Air Force Times reported that Mendez Covarrubias was assigned to 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Roberts was assigned to 219th Engineering Installation Squadron of the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing.
Covarrubias was from Hanford, California. Roberts was from Owasso, Oklahoma.
Army Spc Juan Mendez Covarrubias
Covarrubias deployed to Operation Inherent Resolve in October, 2019 as a Signal Support Systems Specialist. His awards include the Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Defense Service Ribbon and Army Service Ribbon, according to dfw.com.
“Specialist Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias earns our greatest honor for his combat service and sacrifice on the mission to, permanently, defeat ISIS in Iraq. On behalf of the Phantom Corps and Fort Hood, Texas, community, Emma and I send our deepest condolences to Juan’s family, friends, and 1st Cavalry Division troopers during this difficult time of mourning. Specialist Mendez was a warrior who will forever be remembered.” Lt. Gen. Pat White, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve and III Corps commanding general
Air Force Staff Sergeant Marshall D. Roberts
Roberts joined the military in May, 2014, and is the first Oklahoma Guardsman killed in action, the 20th to die while deployed overseas since 9-11-2001 (Tulsa World).
“With the passing of Staff Sgt. Roberts, the 138th family has lost 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. They are and always will be part of the 138th family.” 138th wing commander Col. Michael Meason
“Wednesday’s news is a painful reminder that our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors are still fighting every day to protect us across the world. To lose a member of our military is never easy; to lose a neighbor is even harder.” U.S. Sen. James Lankford
“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. We are also praying for the swift recovery of the service members injured in Wednesday’s attack, including a member of the Oklahoma National Guard.” U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe
In response to the rocket attacks that killed coalition service members, the US conducted air strikes against Kataib Hezbollah at five locations. The US targeted weapons storage facilities in an effort to “degrade their ability to conduct future attacks.” (Military.com) Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that attacks against US forces would “not be tolerated.” That was not an empty threat.
Featured photo: Left- SSgt Marshall Roberts, Right- Spc Juan Mendez Covarrubias. DoD photos.