Storm Lake family mourns 'noble' 29-year-old after fatal crash of Bradley
A Storm Lake family is mourning the loss of their young soldier, killed in the line of duty on Monday in Iraq.
Javier Marin Jr., 29, apparently died when the Bradley fighting vehicle he was in overturned during a patrol mission in a sandstorm, rolling into a canal and coming to rest on its roof, half submerged. Four people were killed, and two survived, According to information provided to the family by the Department of Defense, Marin is believed to have drowned.
His sister, Evalina Marin, remembers Javier as "a kind young man, and very brave too. He was a very noble young man who most loved to play with his nephews."
Javier will be returned to Mission, Texas for burial, where he grew up and attended high school. He last visited Storm Lake on a brief leave for the 4th of July holiday in 2003, his family said.
"This came as a terrible shock, specially since he was finishing up his duty and was to be coming back home to the states very soon," Evalina said. "Our mother had spoken to him on Monday, we think probably just a short time before his death. He had been so excited, talking about how he would be coming home this April, and about all the plans that he had. He thought he would be stationed in the Seattle area, and was very happy about that."
His last words to his mother were to tell her that he loved her.
Marin has not yet been officially listed as killed by the Defense Department. The accident reportedly took place northeast of Baghdad
Javier's sister had her last contact with him on Saturday. "He had just turned 29 on January 21, four days before the casualties. I had sent him two birthday cards, and he was able to send me a short note by e-mail to let me know that he had gotten them," Evalina said. He joked with her, asking where the money was.
Javier had joined the Army in 1988 or 1999, hoping that the experience would help him to prepare for a career in immigration enforcement.
Javier's mother, Leslie Garza of Storm Lake, was notified of the tragedy while at work at Sara Lee this week. The news stunned the plant. "I'm certain people here will be doing what they can to continue to support the family. They always do," plant spokesperson Dale Carver said.
The mother was crushed and remains inconsolable. "They called me to come and get her because my mom was just out of control," Evalina said.
Javier's father resides in Texas. Evalina is his only sibling. He was not married, but is survived by his young nephews in Storm Lake, Everard Hernandez, Leandro Marin and Jose Florez Jr.
The family will celebrate his service to his country, and the gentle memories he leaves behind. "The one thing Javier always said was that you should always treat people the way you would like to be treated, and he lived by that rule," his sister said.
This week was one of the worst for U.S. forces in the Iraq occupation. In addition to the crash, 30 U.S. Marines and one Navy sailor died in a helicopter crash in bad weather in the western desert on Wednesday, six U.S. troops were killed in insurgent ambushes that same day - the deadliest single day for Americans since the Iraq war began nearly two years ago - and a few other reported fatalities were related to preparations for the vote.
To date, the U.S. military has suffered 1,409 casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and more than 10,600 have been wounded in action.
"While we mourn the loss of these heroes we will honor their sacrifice by continuing our mission to bring democracy to the people of Iraq," said Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commanding general of the 1st Expeditionary Force, in a statement from Iraq.
"To the families of these brave men, our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to you in this most difficult time," he said.
Cherokee Marine dies as helicopter
falls in Iraq, 'everbody's best friend'
A Marine from Cherokee was among the 31 U.S. servicemen killed in Wednesday's helicopter crash in western Iraq, just days before he was to come home. The day was the deadliest for the U.S. military since the Iraq action began.
Marine Cpl. Nathan Schubert had received orders to leave Iraq on Feb. 4, his uncle, Dan Winklepleck, said Friday.
"His duty as far as battle duty and combat duty was done," Winklepleck said.
Schubert died the day before his 23rd birthday, he said.
His family, originally from Galva, was gathering in Sioux Falls. A date for a memorial service in Cherokee will be announced next week.
The City of Cherokee, Cherokee County, the Cherokee School District and the U.S. Post Office are flying flags at half staff until after the day of the funeral. A ceremony will also be held at Washington High School, where he graduated in 2001, at a date yet to be set. Companies and private citizens are also being invited to also fly flags at half staff.
Winklepleck said his nephew, who loved to hunt and fish, joined the Marines after the terrorist tragedies in 2001.
"He went to college in Cedar Rapids for one year then joined the Marines after 9/11," he said.
Nathan Schubert was among 27 soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, based at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, who died in the crash, which happened during a desert sandstorm in the darkness near the border with Jordan.
The CH-53E Super Stallion was carrying personnel from the 1st Marine Division on a security mission in support of Sunday's election.
It was the largest number of Marines to die in a single event since the terrorist bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon in October 1983.
"I feel sorry for all the other families that were involved with the kids on the helicopter, you know," Winklepleck said.
Schubert's brother, Matt Schubert, said he was a carefree man who "lived a day for what it was worth." "He was kind of a patriotic person and I think he felt it was his duty to serve the country," said the older brother, who lives in Spencer.
Cherokee Mayor Dennis Henrich said Schubert's death is the first military casualty for the city of 5,300 since the Vietnam War.
Matt Schubert talked with his younger brother last Friday. Nathan said in that conversation he had received his orders to leave Iraq on Feb. 4. He was excited to come home, Matt Schubert said. The two brothers were going to spend time working on an old Jeep Nathan had bought.
"He was just the kind of person that would be everybody's best friend," Matt Schubert said.