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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 August 2007, 06:16 GMT 07:16 UK
US 'sole survivor' to leave Iraq
The Hubbard brothers
Nathan and Jason Hubbard signed up after the death of their brother
A US soldier is to return home from Iraq under a military proviso known as the "sole survivor" rule after losing both of his brothers in the war.

Jason Hubbard, 33, will be re-united with his family in Clovis, California after his brother Nathan, 21, died in a helicopter crash in Iraq on Wednesday.

His other sibling Jared Hubbard was killed by a roadside bomb in 2004.

The "sole survivor" policy, which has allowed Jason to leave Iraq, formed the premise of movie Saving Private Ryan.

Nathan and Jason Hubbard had joined the army in 2005, shortly after their brother, Jared, died aged 22.

Tim McLain Rolen
The fact that you've gone through this before doesn't prepare you to suffer it all over again
Tim McLain Rolen
Hubbard family pastor

Jared died in Ramadi along with his best friend from school, Jeremiah Baro, and the two friends were buried next to each other in Clovis.

After his first son's death, his father Jeff Hubbard said: "I hope and pray it comes to a good solution because there's been a tremendous sacrifice.

"And it would just be awful if it didn't accomplish something great."

Nathan died this week when a helicopter crashed during a night mission in the Tamim province that surrounds Kirkuk, an oil-rich city 180 miles (290 kilometres) north of Baghdad.

A military official said facts gathered indicated the crash was almost certainly due to a mechanical problem and not hostile fire, although the final cause remained under investigation.

'Distraught' family

Following Nathan's death, military officials ordered the return home of Jason, the eldest Hubbard sibling.

Jeff and Peggy Hubbard
Jeff and Peggy Hubbard will bury their second son next week

It was reportedly the death of Jared that prompted his two other brothers to sign up for military service.

Nathan's funeral is scheduled for next week.

The family pastor, Tim McLain Rolen, said the Hubbards were distraught.

"The fact that you've gone through this before doesn't prepare you to suffer it all over again," he said.

Under the US military "sole survivor" policy, the last remaining sibling in a war zone can ask to return home when his brothers or sisters have been killed. The regulations are designed to spare parents losing all their children to war.

The US War Department introduced the policy after five siblings, the Sullivan brothers, died when their light cruiser the USS Juneau was sunk in World War II.

This rule formed the basis of Steven Spielberg's 1998 film Saving Private Ryan, in which a team of soldiers are sent to Europe to look for a last remaining sibling amid heavy fighting in World War II.

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