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Tuesday, Nov. 09, 2004 at 3:51 PM
Marine Cpl. Jeremiah A. Baro, 21, Fresno
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2 Marine Buddies From San Joaquin Valley Die in Iraq
From Associated Press
November 7, 2004
They played together in childhood, wrestled together in high school and joined the Marines together after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Last week, the two young men from the San Joaquin Valley died together in a dangerous area of Iraq where the military is preparing a major assault on insurgents.
Cpl. Jeremiah A. Baro, 21, of Fresno, and Lance Cpl. Jared P. Hubbard, 22, of Clovis, Calif., 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, said by telephone Friday as he fought back tears to describe his son.
Both families were notified of the deaths Thursday, but have been told few details.
The Defense Department on Friday said the Camp Pendleton-based Marines died Thursday in enemy action in Al Anbar province, where the military is preparing for a massive offensive into the insurgent stronghold of Fallouja. Both were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
Baro and Hubbard 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 that conditions were more perilous when they returned.
Brandon Sanchez, a friend of both, said Baro and Hubbard had a harder time determining their enemies.
"They said things over there were worse this time than before," Sanchez told the Fresno Bee. "They had been in some pretty bad gunfights."
Baro and Hubbard had known each other since childhood, and made the wrestling team at Buchanan High School in Clovis, a Fresno suburb.
Hubbard made the varsity team as a sophomore, wrestling seniors who were state champions in the 145-pound division, said Chris Hansen, his former coach. Hubbard didn't win many matches that year, but helped the team win the Central Valley title.
"He was an average wrestler, but he was such a tough kid. He always tried and never gave up," said Hansen, now the school's athletic director. "He was one of those kids you just love…. He wasn't doing it because he was the best kid. He was doing it because he liked it."
Hubbard also was a defensive tackle on the school's football team. During his junior and senior years, he spent part of his day at a high-tech school that was affiliated with Buchanan.
After graduating from high school in 2001, Baro and Hubbard were inspired to join the Marine Corps after the Sept. 11 attacks. They endured boot camp together but were sent to different regions of Iraq when the war started. They were rejoined after finishing sniper training, and were based near Ramadi with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
Hubbard's family had conflicting emotions about his decision to join the Marines, a mixture of pride and apprehension because they knew he had signed up during a time of war.
"He was young and looking for something that was honorable to do in life," said brother Jason Hubbard, 30, also speaking Friday from the family's home in Clovis. "He felt that was a calling he definitely could answer." His mother, Peggy, and an older sister also were at the home Friday.
Hubbard's 18-year-old brother, Nathan, described him as "a perfect older brother" who watched out for him and helped him with homework.
"He looked out for family and looked out for friends," Nathan Hubbard said. "He was always trying to make people's days better, always had a smile on his face. He lived to make other people happy."
Baro's parents issued a statement describing their son and Hubbard 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. "The loss we feel is unbearable. They will be in our hearts forever."
Sanchez told the Fresno Bee that his friends had common interests but different personalities. Hubbard was carefree and enjoyed hiking and rock-climbing in the Sierra, which lies just east of Fresno. Baro, who had two younger brothers, was more intense and competitive, an aspiring rapper who won a talent show his senior year with a rap song.
"Jeremiah always had a lot of potential," said Hansen, who coached Baro as a freshman and sophomore wrestler. "I think the Marines was a good thing to help him with discipline. He was a good kid to be around."
Jeff Hubbard, a retired Clovis police officer, said his son supported the Marines' mission in Iraq, but also looked forward to being discharged and attending college, where he hoped to start wrestling again.
He described his son as confident and popular. "Kids keep coming back to me since he graduated. Jared was their protector," he said. "If Jared was your friend, you didn't have to worry about anybody picking on you. Whatever needed to be done, people knew you couldn't mess with Jared."
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Tuesday, Nov. 09, 2004 at 3:51 PM
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Marine Lance Cpl. Jared P. Hubbard, 22, Clovis
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