By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Fort Hood Herald

Of all the soldiers Col. Gary Volesky has known and lost during his time in the Army, he has never lost a closer friend than Lt. Col. Gary Derby.

The 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, including Volesky, its commander, honored four soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, who were killed Feb. 9 in Mosul, Iraq, by a roadside bomb blast.

They were:

Derby, 44, of Missoula, Mont.

Sgt. Joshua A. Ward, 30, of Scottsville, Ky.

Pfc. Albert R. Jex, 23, of Phoenix, Ariz.

Pfc. Jonathan R. Roberge, 22, of Leominster, Mass.

Derby served as the battalion's commander, and Ward, Jex and Roberge belonged to his personal security detachment. An unnamed interpreter was also killed in the attack.

The five were killed while en route to a combat outpost in a Western Mosul neighborhood to conduct a combined operations patrol with Iraqi Security Forces, according to information from the brigade. No one else was wounded in the attack, and an investigation is being conducted.

Volesky spoke about the men during a Friday memorial service at Forward Operating Base Marez.

"Today we honor Lt. Col. Derby and the members of his (personal security detachment) who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of freedom for not only the people of Iraq but for the lives of our citizens in America as well," he said.

Maj. John Cogbill, who was the battalion's executive officer, immediately stepped in as interim commander. A new battalion commander has been identified and will take command soon, Maj.. Ramona Bellard, brigade spokeswoman, said Saturday.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of our fallen comrades," Bellard said.

"Their sacrifice is not in vain. We are now even more committed to partnering with Iraqi forces to rid Mosul and (Nineveh Province) of criminals and criminal organizations by destroying the criminal network and crushing the network's leaders, bomb-makers, financiers, suppliers and operators."

Derby lead his soldiers to Iraq in December for the battalion's third deployment. He took command March 26, 2008, during a brigade-wide change of command ceremony at 1st Cavalry headquarters at Fort Hood.

The 3rd Brigade took over the Nineveh Province from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment on Jan. 19.

The province is in northern Iraq and its capital is Mosul.

Before coming to the 1st Cavalry, Derby served in several positions with the 4th Infantry. He was operations officer for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team's 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment; 2nd Brigade executive officer from 2004 to 2005; 4th Infantry and Multinational Division-Baghdad chief of operations from 2005-2006; and most recently, division deputy chief of staff, according to his biography on the 1st Cavalry's Web site.

Derby is survived by his wife, Brenda, and their three children: Jennifer, Matthew and Benjamin.

Ward is survived by his wife, Jenna, of Killeen, and his two sons: Joshua andane, of Scottsville, Ky.

Jex is survived by his wife, Monica, of Phoenix, Ariz.

Roberge is survived by his parents, John and Pauline, of Leominster, Mass.

The interpreter, who was 27, was scheduled to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen in May 2009.

Pfc. Sharla Perrin of 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs contributed to this report.

Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at or (254) 501-7547.

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