A Central California soldier was among 14 killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in northern Iraq - the second tragedy for his family, who lost another son to the war three years ago, family friends said.
The family of Spc. Nathan Hubbard, 21, was taking his death on Wednesday "very, very hard," said Clovis police spokeswoman Janet Stoll-Lee, who spoke on behalf of the Hubbards. The soldier's father, Jeff Hubbard, is a retired 30-year veteran of the police department.
Hubbard's UH-60 helicopter went down during a nighttime mission in the Tamim province that surrounds Kirkuk, an oil-rich city 180 miles north of Baghdad, said Lt. Col. Michael Donnelly, a military spokesman in northern Iraq.
He said facts gathered indicated it was almost certainly due to a mechanical problem and not hostile fire, although the final cause remained under investigation. The military did not immediately release the soldiers' identities pending notification of relatives.
Nathan Hubbard was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, where officials said 10 of the soldiers killed in the crash were based.
The Hubbards lost Nathan's older brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Hubbard, to a roadside bomb in downtown Ramadi in 2004. CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier
reports that after Jared died, Nathan, along with his younger brother Jason, decided to fight back. They joined the Army, completing basic training at Fort Benning, and together, deployed to Iraq.
"These were aggressively committed young men, to their friends, their family, whatever sports activity or event that they were participating in," says local clergy member Rev. Tim Rolen of New Hope Community Church.
Their mother, Peggy, told the Fresno Bee in a 2005 interview that she believed Jason joined in part to protect Nathan after not being there to help Jared.
The brothers said at the time that they didn't worry about dying in the war.
"People are going to be hurt, and people are going to be killed," Nathan Hubbard told the Bee. "That is a reality you have to accept, but not dwell on."
Jason has left his unit in Iraq, to join his family in California at this difficult time, reports Dozier
Army officials tell CBS News
that in a case like this, no branch of the U.S. military will force family members to fight on.
So now, when the funeral is over, Jason will have to face the choice of how to best honor his brothers' sacrifice and his family's loss: go back to Iraq or stay home.
Keith Butterfield, a family friend, said the Hubbards were worried for their sons but proud because they knew they were committed to going on behalf of their fallen brother.
"There is nothing anyone can say to make it better, but it's good to know that there are other families that can help you cope," said Butterfield, who became close to the Hubbards after his own son died in Iraq last year. "It's bringing up the feelings of everyone else's loss, but we will be there for them."
The tragedy has echoes of another sorrow, from World War II - the combat deaths of the five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, Iowa, killed when the Navy ship on which they served was sunk in November 1942.
Their story was told in the 1944 movie "The Sullivans" and was an inspiration for the fictional tale that unfolds in the 1998 film "Saving Private Ryan."
Two destroyers were named The Sullivans in memory of the five brothers. The most recent ship, commissioned in 1997 as part of the Atlantic fleet, has the motto: "We stick together."In other developments:An investigating officer recommended Thursday dismissing all charges against a Marine accused of murdering two girls in an assault that killed 24 civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha. Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum, 26, is charged with unpremeditated murder of two girls and negligent homicide on suspicion that he unlawfully killed two men, a woman and a boy. He is also accused of assaulting another boy and a girl. Investigating officer Lt. Col. Paul Ware said the evidence was too weak for a court-martial. Tatum shot and killed civilians, but "he did so because of his training and the circumstances he was placed in, not to exact revenge and commit murder," Ware wrote.
Sen. John Warner, the former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, urged President Bush to start bringing some troops home from Iraq by Christmas. The Republican said the move would send a warning to the Iraqi government that time is running out.
Army Secretary Pete Geren on Thursday ruled out extending troop deployments beyond the current 15 months, saying that longer tours in Iraq put stress on soldiers and their families, and have contributed to an increase in suicides. But Geren, who was confirmed in the Army's top civilian post in July, also criticized any congressional efforts to mandate deployment lengths or rest time at home.
The Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months and its security forces have not improved enough to operate without outside help, U.S. spy agencies conclude in a new assessment of the country's political and military fortunes.
Alleged al Qaeda fighters attacked a Sunni village east of Baqouba on Thursday and killed a village leader who had led the community in an uprising against the terrorist organization, witness and police said. The attack by about 25 gunmen on the Ibrahim al-Yahya village began when the fighters exploded a bomb at the house of the sheik, destroying his home and killing him and one member of his family. Ten people were wounded, including four other members of the family and passersby. Some of the wounded were hit by gunfire.
A U.S. soldier was killed and four were wounded in combat operations west of the capital, the military reported Thursday. The attack occurred Wednesday. No other details were provided. The death raised to at least 3,723 members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
Testimony has ended at the Fort Meade court martial of Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan, the only officer charged in the abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. Earlier Thursday, the judge denied defense motions to acquit Jordan on each of the four counts against him. The defense had argued that the government had not proven the elements of the charges against the reservist from Virginia. Court is in recess until Monday, when closing arguments are expected.
The U.S. general who commands troops in northern Iraq issued a statement of condolences for the 14 soldiers who were killed Wednesday when a Blackhawk helicopter crashed during a night operation in Tamim province, home to the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. "There is no doubt this is a tragic event, not only for Task Force Lightning, but also for the families and fellow Soldiers in the Schofield and Fort Lewis communities," said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of Task Force Lightning and the 25th Infantry Division.
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