Valley Soldier Killed By Roadside Bomb in Iraq

June 19, 2009 12:30:09 AM PDT
A soldier from Avenal has died in Iraq. It was Army Sergeant Joshua Soto's third tour.On Thursday, his family and friends gathered at his grandmother's home in Avenal where they remembered him as a hero.

"It's sad you know that we talked last week and then he died, and got killed you know," said Juliana.

Juliana Soto remembers the last conversation she had with her grandson, Army Sergeant Joshua Soto. He called her from Iraq just last week.

"And I said, when do you plan to come hijo. He said I'll see if they'll give me a vacation in December and I'll come to California and I'll see my family," said Juliana.

Days after that phone call, Soto and the rest of her family received the heartbreaking news. On Tuesday, Josh was killed by a roadside bomb near Tallil, Iraq.

American flag now waves proudly next to a picture of Josh at the family's Avenal home.

"He died fighting for our freedom. I remember the second time he was going in, I said, why are you going? He said that's what I want to do Tia," said Carol Maldonado.

At just 25-years old, Josh was already a month into his third tour in Iraq. He received the Purple Heart after his first tour of duty. He had a baby boy after his second.

Koneechia Brown has known Josh since his days at Avenal High School, where he played basketball and football. She last saw him in December, when he was visiting Avenal for the holidays.

"Death is never something that you really get used to. You know, we all know that he's going to war and there's the possibility. But, you still never think that it's gonna hit that close to home," said Brown.

Josh's wife and ten-month old son live in Colorado. They, along with the rest of his family are planning a funeral in Bakersfield, where he spent his childhood.

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