BILLINGS – Lt. Col. Gary Derby, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, was remembered Friday as a dedicated soldier, a devoted father and a loving husband.
Derby, 44, of Missoula, died Feb. 9 in Mosul in an attack that killed three other soldiers and an interpreter.
Brig. Gen. David Hogg, the military presiding general officer at the service, said Derby was a proud Montanan, a solid soldier and a true friend.
“He died serving his country, doing what he loved most and that was being a soldier in the American armed forces,” Hogg said.
He also spoke to Derby’s widow.
“Brenda, I don’t have the answers to why, I just know that all things happen for a reason and for a higher reason,” Hogg said.
Derby is believed to be one of only three battallion commanders killed by hostile fire in the war.
The attack that killed Derby also killed Sgt. Joshua A. Ward, 30, of Scottsville, Ky.; Pfc. Albert R. Jex, 23, of Phoenix; and Pfc. Jonathan R. Roberge, 22, of Leominister, Mass. They were part of Derby’s security detail. Also killed was their interpreter, Jevan Ali Othman, 27.
The blast occurred as American vehicles were passing near an Iraqi police checkpoint.
Capt. Robert Tindall, who served under Derby, said Derby was a “soldier’s soldier and a warrior’s warrior” who cared about his soldiers and gave company officers the freedom to command.
About 150 people attended Derby’s memorial service at Faith Chapel in Billings. Derby was to be buried Friday afternoon at Fort Harrison State Veterans Cemetery west of Helena.
Derby was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas.
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