Family remembers Hanford soldier killed in Iraq

HANFORD, Calif. (KFSN) -- Even though he was a member of the military, Monica Mendez says her oldest son fundamentally disagreed with the notion that war could solve the world's problems.

"He doesn't think that that is a solution to any dispute of the countries," said a family member who translated for Mendez. "They're not going to resolve anything if they go to war."

According to the Department of Defense, Army Specialist Juan Covarrubias died on Wednesday when his unit was attacked by rockets at Camp Taji in Iraq.

Two other service members were killed.

Officials say it's the latest in a series of attacks against U.S. forces, carried out by Iranian-backed Shia militia groups.

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Army Specialist Juan Covarrubias died on Wednesday when the Hanford native's unit was attacked by rockets at Camp Taji in Iraq.

On Friday, family members of Covarrubias took time to remember him at their Hanford home.

At just 27, they say he already had several educational degrees and dreamed of one day working for the FBI.

"He never said, 'Oh this is too hard and I'm going to quit,'" said Alfredo Covarrubias, Juan's father. "He never quit. He always tried to do the best he can. He (taught) us how to love him and how to love other people."

"He was just always behind me, pushing me through things, always covering up for me if I did something wrong," said Covarrubias' younger brother Daniel.

Covarrubias' family says he was selfless in every sense of the word.
Recently, he helped his 15-year-old sister navigate a difficult time in her life.

"For the last couple years, I've had depression," Karen Covarrubias said.

"And he's been helping me through that and I'm finally getting good grades in school and (have a) good social life and everything. And I thank him a lot for that."

Bianca Meza Covarrubias says she started dating Covarrubias in 2010.
They married in 2018.

That same year, he joined the Army.

"He left an impact on everybody's lives," Bianca said. "He always was so focused and concerned about making a change to our world, making our world a better place. He was always loving, caring, put himself before others."

"I know he always told me to be strong, never to cry about things, especially over him," Daniel Covarrubias said. "And I'm trying to keep it together for him, trying to be there for my family."

Daniel says he'll travel from Fresno to Dover Air Force Base this weekend to help bring his brother home.

Services are still being planned.

He'll eventually be laid to rest at Kings River Cemetery.
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