A Central California family has just lost its second son to the war in Iraq. The third son is headed home from the war to mourn after witnessing the helicopter crash that killed his brother, according to friends.
Nathan Hubbard, 21, died Wednesday in the crash of a Blackhawk helicopter on a night mission in Iraq, just three years after his older brother Jared died during combat.
According to the U.S. military, all 14 U.S. soldiers aboard the helicopter were killed when the aircraft crashed due to mechanical problems.
Family friends told ABC's Brian Rooney that Nathan's brother Jason was aboard a second helicopter that landed to look for survivors.
The family is now secluded in their home; friends say the boys' mother doesn't even want to come out of the bedroom.
"They're shocked, they're stunned," said their pastor Tim McLain Rolen. "The fact that they've been through it before doesn't prepare you for it again."
Just days before his death, Nathan's friends posted messages on MySpace expressing their excitement that he was coming home.
"Heard you are coming back to the states in about 40 days," wrote Vicks. "Can't wait! Keep ur head up. Love u!!!!!"
Since then, messages of condolences have flooded Nathan's page.
One, posted by Jena Marie, reads, "I love you! always and forever."
Other friends proclaim Nathan as a "true hero" and a "cherished friend."
Following in His Brother's Footsteps
Nathan had enlisted with his other brother, Jason, just nine months after Jared was killed, and told a local newspaper that he was serving on behalf of his brother.
"We are getting on with our lives," Nathan told the Fresno Bee in a 2005 interview. "My brother – my parents' son – will always be in our hearts, and we'll always remember him and we'll always think of him and all that, but we've got to move on, and that's what we are doing."
He added that he was not afraid to die.
"People are going to be hurt, and people are going to be killed," Nathan told the paper. "That is a reality you have to accept, but not dwell on."
The first Hubbard brother to die, Jared, was killed in 2004 while working as a part of a two-man sniper team. Alongside him was one of his best friends from high school, Jeremiah Baro, who was also killed.
The boys' high school, Buchanan High, has now seen five students killed in Iraq, according to ABC affiliate KFSN-TVKFS
Nathan was interviewed by KFSN while Jared was still serving overseas, and exuded confidence that his brother would survive the war.
"I know he'll come out of it all right, he's a tough guy," Nathan told the station.
ABC News' "Nightline" spoke with the brothers' mother, Peggy Hubbard, just two weeks after Jared's death.
"[Jared and Jeremiah] went to school together. And they went in the Marines together. And they went to war together. And they died together," Peggy told "Nightline." "And now, we'll bury them together."
The third and only surviving brother, Jason, is en route to the United States from Iraq, the family spokeswoman told ABC News.