Based: Camp Pendleton
Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: September 6, 2004
Fallouja (9 mi. north of), Iraq
Hometown: San Juan Capistrano
High School: Laguna Hills High (Laguna Hills)
"Derek was a Marine," his mother said. "It was what he wanted to do with his life."
Gardner, a graduate of Laguna Hills High School, played football and enjoyed deep-sea fishing with his father. He liked Knott's Berry Farm, rap music, professional wrestling and baseball; a Dodgers cap was placed on his casket.