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Soldier buries brother in life, brother in war

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Funeral held Friday for Army Cpl. Nathan Hubbard
  • Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Hubbard was killed by a roadside bomb in 2004
  • Jared's brothers Nathan and Jason Hubbard were inspired to enlist
  • Nathan was killed August 22; Jason was ordered to return home for good
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From Thelma Gutierrez
CNN
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CLOVIS, California (CNN) -- Jeff Hubbard fought back tears as he talked about his boy -- a "great, great young man" who was killed last week in Iraq in a helicopter crash. It's the second time he's had to bury a son killed in the Iraq war.

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Jeff and Peggy Hubbard with sons Army Spc. Jason Hubbard, left, and Cpl. Nathan Hubbard.

This time, it was made even more tragic. His third son, also a soldier in Iraq, was immediately on the scene of last week's helicopter crash and watched as soldiers carried the remains of his brother, 21-year-old Army Cpl. Nathan Hubbard, from the crash site.

Nathan's flag-draped coffin arrived in Fresno earlier this week and eventually to his hometown of Clovis. Video Watch "We love you Nate" »

Hundreds of mourners gathered Friday to remember Nathan at St. Anthony of Padua, the same church where his oldest brother's funeral was held in 2004. Nathan will be laid to rest at Clovis Cemetery, beside his brother, Jared.

Nathan and his other brother entered the military shortly after Jared was killed -- to honor his sacrifice.

"Their decision to join the military was motivated by a love for their brother and a desire to serve their country," the priest told mourners Friday. "The death of Jared touched him deeply. Losing a brother and a friend made a profound impact on him, and brought to his attention the seasons of war and grief and loss."

Jeff Hubbard spoke to reporters Thursday ahead of the funeral, struggling to find words to describe how much his youngest son meant to him and his family.

"I want everybody to remember and celebrate Nate in their own way, the way they want," he said. "We want him honored, remembered and celebrated -- he was a great, great young man. Wonderful young man."

Tragically, the Hubbards have gone through this anguish before.

In 2004 their son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Hubbard, was on patrol in Iraq with his best friend and fellow Marine, Jeremiah Baro -- also from Clovis -- when a roadside bomb exploded, killing both.

Jeff Hubbard says there's no way for a parent to prepare for the agony a second time.

"They're each absolutely individual terrible instances that you deal with the best you can as you go forward," he said.

Six months after Jared was killed, Nathan and Jason Hubbard decided to enlist and serve together -- to follow in their brother's footsteps.

On August 22 after returning from a scouting mission south of Kirkuk, Iraq, the Blackhawk helicopter carrying Nathan and 13 other soldiers crashed.

Jason, who served in the same Army platoon, was in a separate helicopter when his brother went down and was ordered to secure the crash site.

When he and his men reached the downed Blackhawk, Jason says he realized it was his brother's unit.

"We also had to remove as many of the men as we could out of that helicopter," Jason remembered. "And I couldn't participate in that. I knew my -- I knew Nathan was in there. I tried several times to kind of gather myself, but I just -- I couldn't."

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Jason says as the men carried bodies out of the wreckage, he spotted his younger brother. "At one point they did carry Nathan by me. And that's when the reality, the complete reality, and complete understanding of the situation came to me and I began dealing with it."

Under the Department of Defense sole survivor policy, Jason says he was told he will not be allowed to return to war. His wife and young son will join him at his base in Hawaii. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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