U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Brian S. Hobbs had always said he was born to be a soldier, and on Thursday the Mesa man died doing what he loved, a family member said Friday.
Hobbs, 31, was killed in Afghanistan near Miam Do when a homemade bomb detonated near his patrol, the Department of Defense said.
He is the second Mesa man to become a victim in the same day in the war against terror. His comrade, Spc. Kyle Ka Eo Fernandez, 26, of Waipahu, Hawaii, also was killed.
Also on Thursday, civilian contractor Ferdinand J. Ibabao, 36, of Mesa, was reported missing and is presumed dead after bombs ripped through Baghdad’s heavily guarded Green Zone.
Hobbs and Ibabao leave behind young families.
"(Brian) was the kind of person you hoped would be spared, but I guess this is the Lord’s way of saying it’s time to go," said Steve Hobbs, 40, of Mesa, Brian Hobbs’ uncle. "We miss him a lot, but he was doing what he believed in, what we all believe in."
Brian Hobbs, a Red Mountain High School graduate, joined the Army in 1994 and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, in 2001.
He had just returned to Afghanistan after a two-week leave with his family in Hawaii when he was killed.
"At least he got to say goodbye," his uncle said.
Hobbs and his wife, Jenny, were high school sweethearts. He leaves behind a daughter, 11, and two sons, ages 9 and 3.
Steve Hobbs said it came as a surprise when his nephew mentioned recently that he was ready to leave the military and become a history professor.
It was his uncle who gave him the passion for history after listening for years to his uncle’s stories and reenactments about their Celtic and Indian heritage.
"He said, ‘This is going to be my last hitch,’ " Steve Hobbs said. "He was doing his job and going to go back home to be with his family."
A Mesa family also is mourning the loss of Ibabao, a police officer in Guam for nine years and a U.S. Army military policeman for eight years before he started working for DynCorp in April in Afghanistan, according to his employer.
His wife, Mison, who lives in east Mesa with their son, declined an interview Thursday, saying she needed to learn more about what happened to her husband.
DynCorp provides security and police training for the U.S. government and military in war zones worldwide.
Ibabao received a commendation from the United Nations for a heroic act while he was a police officer assigned to a United Nations mission in Kosovo, according to congressional records on the U.S. Library of Congress Web site.
Ibabao, who was providing security for an Austrian judge there, took down an armed man while he and a partner were escorting the judge home late one night, stated Rep. Robert A. Underwood, a delegate of Guam, in a tribute at the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2001.
"I take great pride and pleasure in commending the acts of Ferdinand Ibabao," Underwood said in his tribute. "He represents the best of what the island has to offer. I wish him the best of luck in his endeavors and urge him to keep up the good work."
The commendations, issued by the deputy regional commander of the United Nations mission in the Kosovo civilian police force, stated in part: "You should be proud that you have brought honor and credit to yourself, your uniform and above all the country that you represent."