Avenal Soldier Killed in Iraq - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Avenal Soldier Killed in Iraq

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By Norma Yuriar

Avenal, Calif.  (KMPH News) - Another valley soldier has paid the ultimate sacrifice.  Friends say Army Sgt. Joshua Soto from Avenal was killed in Iraq.

"Right now we don't have any details of about what happened, all we know is that he passed away in Iraq," said family friend Koneeshia Brown.

The U.S. Department of Defense has not confirmed Sgt. Soto's death.  But, friends say family members were notified of his passing on Tuesday.

"This is very devastating news, but he was doing what he loved to do and that is to serve his country," said family friend Brenda Brown.

Koneeshia and Brenda say the 25-year old was serving his third tour in Iraq when he was killed.  Koneeshia says Soto was following in his brother's and grandfather's footsteps when joined the U.S. army.  He enlisted in 2002 after graduating from Avenal High School.

"Josh was a funny guy, he was a big joker and loved to mess around and play jokes on people.  He was into sports and an all around good friend," said Koneeshia.

Brenda says Soto was married and had a 10-month old son.

"I did see Josh after Christmas, he brought his wife and his son and I could tell he was a very proud husband and a very father," said Brenda.

Friends and family members also have many reasons to be proud.

Koneeshia says Sgt. Soto received a Purple Heart metal during his first tour in Iraq when he survived enemy fire.

"He's our hero, we love him," said Koneeshia.

"I thank him will of my heart.  We love him and we are going to truly miss him but he leaves memories that will never be forgotten," said Brenda.

A memorial is being planned.

"Arrangements have not been set, all we know is it's going to be in Bakersfield, his mom and grandfather are buried there," said Koneeshia.

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