Jeff Hubbard looked down yesterday as he listened to his son Army Spc. Jason Hubbard, left, talk about Jason's brother, Army Cpl. Nathan Hubbard, who was killed Aug. 22 in a helicopter crash in Iraq, during an interview at the Hubbard home in Clovis, Calif. Another Hubbard son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Hubbard, was killed in 2004 by a roadside bomb.
Soldier recalls brother's last moments
Nathan Hubbard spoke to his brother, a fellow Army scout, during a radio check
Schofield Barracks Spc. Jason Hubbard said the last time he heard his brother's voice was during a routine radio check just before he died more than a week ago in a midnight helicopter crash in Iraq.
Both Jason and Cpl. Nathan Hubbard were scouts with the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry -- nicknamed Cacti -- and served in the same platoon.
Nathan Hubbard, 21, and nine members of his platoon were killed Aug. 22 when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter experienced mechanical problems south of Kirkuk and crashed just after midnight. Jason Hubbard was riding with other members of his platoon on another Black Hawk hovering above. Also killed were four helicopter crew members from 4th Squadron, 6th Air Cavalry, of Fort Lewis, Wash.
Three years ago a third brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Hubbard, 22, was killed by a roadside bomb. Jason and Nathan Hubbard joined the Army in 2005 to continue the work begun by brother Jared.
Half of Jason and Nathan's scout platoon was wiped out by that one Black Hawk crash.
"That's extremely difficult to deal with," said surviving brother Jason in an interview yesterday. "I have pictures from Iraq that I look at. It's, you know, every picture you look at, there's 10 of us in the picture, and five or six of them are dead. It's hard. It's extremely hard."
In recalling the 26-hour mission that ended in catastrophe, Jason Hubbard said: "As we lifted off, maybe about 30 seconds into flight, some of my guys on my team noticed that there appeared to be a helicopter on the ground.
"We didn't have communication with our pilots, so we didn't know what type of radio traffic was happening, but we could see that there was a Black Hawk down," Jason Hubbard said in a transcript from an interview he and his father held at their home in Clovis, Calif.
"At that point the pilots began to yell back to us and inform us that there was a Black Hawk down, and we kind of went into a holding pattern over this downed bird, waiting for details from our higher (ups), what they wanted us to do. And it was at that point where I began to really fear that was the other helicopter that picked up our team."
Jason Hubbard's platoon was ordered to secure the crash site.
Once on the ground, Jason Hubbard, after seeing bodies from the crash, said, "I knew that it was my platoon and my guys.
"I had a hard time dealing with that."
Besides getting all of the sensitive items out of the downed Black Hawk, Jason Hubbard was supposed to help remove the bodies.
"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.
"I never saw him in there, but from the position I was at, as some of the other men I worked with were removing them, and taking them to another helicopter to fly them out, 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."
Jason Hubbard said the Schofield Barracks unit was beginning its last 30 days in Iraq when the crash occurred. He said because he had lost two brothers, he was allowed to return home early. "But for the rest of my platoon, life goes on in Iraq. They have to recover immediately, and they're going to be back to work, on missions. They don't have the time to heal or the opportunities that I'm having to be sent back to my family to deal with this."
When asked about his opinion on the war, father Jeff Hubbard said, "We purposely don't get in to the political part, to a great deal, other than to say that politics (politicians) in the world do what they do, and then we end up in the background of all that."
He added, "People who are in the position to know more, and have the power to do more, are doing the things they think are right. I hope their judgments are correct."
Jason Hubbard said he and his brother's main focus was to finish a yearlong deployment which had been stretched to 15 months. Then there would be just another year before their hitch in the Army would be over.
"He (Nathan) had a lot of plans. He was only 21. Sometimes those plans change day to day, and so where he would have went we don't really know. But he was enthusiastic about life, and there was a lot he wanted to do. A lot he wanted to do."
A funeral service for Nathan Hubbard will be held today in Fresno, Calif., followed by burial in Clovis Cemetery in a plot next to his brother.
Another funeral service for another scout platoon member -- Cpl. Joshua Scott Harmon, 20, of Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio, was to be held today in his hometown.