GOLD RIVER, CA, USA U.S. Army SGT, COMPANY B, 2D BATTALION, 35TH INFANTRY, 3 BCT, SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, HI KIRKUK, IRAQ 06/14/2007
Sergeant Derek Roberts, 24, of Gold River, Calif, died June 14 in Kirkuk, Iraq, when an explosive detonated near his vehicle. Based at Schofield Barracks, the soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Infantry Combat Team, of the 25th Infantry Division.
Roberts met his fiance, Judi Arel, in Hawaii. They were to marry later this year.
“People know that he was extremely loving and compassionate and very self-giving,” Arel told Honolulu television station KITV on Wednesday in a telephone interview from Sacramento, Calif. “I have nothing but the best, best memories of being with him.”
Judi said he was a highly decorated soldier. But what meant the most to her was the kind of person he was.
“He always gave me compliments everyday and he always just took care of me and that’s what I’ll miss,” Arel said.
Other soldiers in Kirkuk knew Roberts as someone who always had a smile, a witty comment, and a way to make every situation better, Arel said.
“No matter how long he was deployed, I would keep waiting for him, because I love him,” Arel said. “No matter how long I have to keep waiting for him, I’ll just keep waiting until I see him again in heaven.”
He also is survived by his parents, Dennis and Willy, who are devastated, Arel said. “Words can’t even explain the shock and grief.”
Kristine Brewer, a family friend, said Roberts was “a very outgoing person and he was always full of life.”
“It’s very, very hard for me to handle,” Brewer said. “It’s a shock to everyone. He was a really good guy.”