SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – They played together in childhood, wrestled together in high school and joined the Marines together after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

This week, the two young men from California’s San Joaquin Valley died together in a dangerous area of Iraq where the military is preparing a major assault on insurgents. Lance Cpl. Jared Hubbard, 22, of Clovis, and Cpl. Jeremiah Baro, 21, of Fresno, were remembered as close friends who wanted to do something honorable for their country.

“There’s just so much to say. I don’t know where to start,” Hubbard’s father, Jeff, told The Associated Press by telephone Friday as he described his son.

The family was notified of the deaths Thursday, but knew few details Friday.

The Defense Department said the Camp Pendleton-based Marines were killed Thursday in Anbar province, where the military was preparing for a massive offensive into the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

Baro’s parents described Hubbard and their son as best friends who died “protecting the country that they loved.”

“The pain of losing a son is overwhelming, and we feel as though we have lost two sons,” Bert and Teresa Baro said in a statement Friday. “The loss we feel is unbearable. They will be in our hearts forever.”

Hubbard and Baro were on their second tour in Iraq. They returned home briefly over the summer, then trained together as snipers before returning to the battlefield.

They kept in touch with friends and told them conditions were more perilous when they returned. Brandon Sanchez, a friend of both, said Hubbard and Baro had a harder time determining who their enemies were.

“They said things over there were worse this time than before,” Sanchez told The Fresno Bee. “They had been in some pretty bad gunfights.”

After graduating from high school in 2001, Hubbard and Baro were inspired to join the Marines after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

They endured boot camp together but were sent to different regions of Iraq when the war started. They came together again after finishing sniper training and were based near Ramadi with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

Hubbard’s family had a mixture of pride and apprehension about his decision to join the Marines.

“He was young and looking for something that was honorable to do in life,” said his older brother, Jason. “He felt that was a calling he definitely could answer.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.