Hometown Hero: Joel Roberts

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By Teresa Herriman

The Courier-Herald

Joel W. Roberts didn't even wait until high school graduation to join the Marine Corp. Choosing the early enrollment option, Roberts officially became a Marine in November of his senior year at Sumner High School. By that September he was in basic training in San Diego.

The year was 2000 and the world was different.

"Then the war started," said his mother Judy. "Who thought that would happen?"

Now in his fourth year in the service, Cpl. Roberts has volunteered for the security forces, ensuring an assignment to either Afghanistan or Iraq.

As a communications specialist, Roberts keeps the electronic equipment for the air traffic control tower up and running.

Going from Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, where he is currently stationed, to the Middle East is a huge change for both Roberts and his parents, Jay and Judy.

His reason for volunteering was that they needed someone from his area and Roberts figured, as a single guy, he was the most likely candidate, Jay said.

The Roberts have lived in the Lake Tapps area for 23 years.

"Joel was born and raised here," Judy said.

He attended Emerald Hills Elementary and Lakeridge Junior High.

Since joining the Marines, Roberts has served stints in Japan, Uzbekistan and Thailand, but is now stationed in Hawaii, where his parents visited him in April.

Not knowing where in the Middle East their son will be deployed is unnerving for Jay and Judy.

"They just don't let mothers know," Judy said.

"They don't let the servicemen know," Jay added.

"They learn to go with the flow," Judy added. "I guess I have to learn to do that too."

Teresa Herriman can be reached at

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