‘I know he is here with us’; Hanford family in mourning after soldier’s death in Iraq

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HANFORD, California (KGPE) – A Hanford family is grieving the loss of 27-year-old U.S. Army soldier Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias after he was killed in Iraq on Wednesday.

On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered Capitol flags to be at half staff and said he will send a letter of condolence to the family.

“This pain is something hard,” said Juan’s father Alfredo Covarrubias. “We do not want anyone else to feel this pain because it is really hard.”

Juan died on Wednesday while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve – a military intervention against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Alfredo describes his son as loving and selfless.

“He teach us how to love him,” said Covarrubias. “He teach us how to treat the people, how to help other people.”

Juan’s mother Monica Mendez in complete shock by the loss of her beloved Juan. She said he told her to protect the family when he began his service in 2018.

“He said you have to be strong for my sisters,” said Mendez. “For any problem that I had, he would say you are strong and you always push through. Right now, I am standing and being strong for my daughters, for my son, for my husband and because I know he is here with us.”

Mendez said his son was planning on coming back home to the central valley this summer to start a family with his wife.

“I don’t blame anyone,” she said. “I know that many in his life recognized all that he did. He always wanted the best for his brother, his dad. He always wanted to protect us one way or another.”

A donation page has been set up from the family and friends of the fallen soldier.

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