Afghan bomb kills
isle troops

Spc. Kyle Fernandez, 26, and
Staff Sgt. Brian Hobbs, 31, die
on patrol after a homemade
device detonates in their path

The 26-year-old Pearl City soldier killed Thursday while on foot patrol in Afghanistan was an easygoing guy who loved surfing and was proud of his native Hawaiian heritage, a longtime friend said yesterday.

Spc. Kyle Fernandez of Pearl City was killed in Afghanistan.

Spc. Kyle Ka Eo Fernandez was one of two Hawaii-based soldiers killed in Miam Do, Afghanistan, when a homemade bomb was detonated in their path. The attack is under investigation, Army officials said.

Also killed in the attack was Staff Sgt. Brian S. Hobbs of Mesa, Ariz. The 31-year-old joined the Army in September 1994 and was assigned to Schofield Barracks in October 2001. He was a member of the 25th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, the Army said.

Three other soldiers were reported wounded in the attack.

The deaths bring the total number of Hawaii soldiers killed in Afghanistan since March 2003 -- when U.S. forces invaded Iraq -- to six. Fifteen soldiers from the islands have been killed in Iraq during the same time period, and 13 of the deaths were due to hostile action.

Seven of those killed in Iraq were from Schofield's 25th Infantry Division.

Fernandez, a 1996 graduate of Aiea High School, enlisted in the Army three years ago and was assigned to Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion of the 25th Division, in August.

Friends said he was on Aiea's football team and also enjoyed surfing.

"He was an easygoing guy ... a really nice guy always willing to help," said Mark Gervacio, Fernandez's former classmate and longtime friend.

"I remember going to the beach with him. He loved the ocean. That was one of our things that we loved to do."

Gervacio said he met the soldier in a Hawaiian-language class during their sophomore year, and did a project with him on a waterfall in Aiea.

"He was really proud of talking about his heritage and culture," Gervacio said, adding that he was shocked when he heard about his friend's death.

"I couldn't believe it," he said. "It's real sad."

Fernandez's family asked for their privacy yesterday. The Army is expected to release a statement from them today.

Hobbs was a father of three who enlisted in the Army after graduating from Arizona's Red Mountain High School in 1991, the Arizona Republic reported in today's edition.

"He was a loving father, a devoted husband," his uncle Steven Hobbs told the paper.

Brian Hobbs saw his children -- ages 11, 9 and 3 -- just two weeks ago while on leave. The soldier had hoped to take college courses through the Army after returning from Afghanistan, his family told the newspaper.

Services for Fernandez are tentatively set for Thursday at Borthwick Mortuary on Maunakea Street. A burial is scheduled for Friday at Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe.

There will be a private prayer service for both soldiers at Schofield on Tuesday morning, officials said.

The deaths in Afghanistan come shortly after two Hawaii soldiers were killed in Iraq:

» Pfc. Joshua K. "Buzz" Titcomb was killed by a bomb in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, late last month. Services for the 20-year-old were held Tuesday at Sacred Hearts Church in Waianae, and he was buried at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery.

» On Monday the Pentagon identified a soldier killed in Iraq last week as Pvt. Jeungjin Na Kim. The Honolulu man died Oct. 6 when his patrol came under attack, also in Ar Ramadi, by enemy forces using small-arms fire, the military said.



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