By Geena Martinez
MIDLAND - Close friends remember a Midland marine killed in combat over the weekend while serving his country.
Pfc. Josue Ibarra passed away in Afghanistan on Sunday. Now friends of the fallen Marine are sharing their memories of him as they await for his return home.
"He was a great young man. He was an example to many," Pastor Abel Torres, said. "He just loved God and he was always willing to serve."
Whether that be serving his country or serving his church, Josue Ibarra did it with a smile on his face.
On Sunday, the 21-year-old passed away from wounds he received while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. Pastor Torres said the family is holding up but it's been especially hard on Ibarra's mother.
"She had a room there at the house that was ready for him when he came back, so it's very difficult for her," Pastor Torres said. "He was the youngest so she's taking it pretty hard."
Ibarra enlisted in the Marine Corps last June and was just deployed in April. Close friend, Aracely Sanchez, spoke with him two weeks ago.
"He said it wasn't really what he expected but he was still glad he joined," she said. "He just missed home. He wanted to do something that was going to change the world, either by becoming a Marine and help the United States or in God's kingdom, to be a missionary."
Ibarra was a youth director and then went a step further and became a deacon at Abundant Living Christian Center in Midland.
Both Sanchez and Torres said he was well known within the congregation.
"He was just a funny guy," Sanchez said. "Always at church, always a good person."
"People fell in love with him, his personality, his character," Pastor Torres said.
All of those things people will remember about their hometown hero who was taken too soon.
"I wish I had one more day to spend with him," Sanchez said. "At least 24 more hours and I would tell him and let him know how much people love him."
"He had the courage to be willing to serve his country and lay his life down," Pastor Torres said. "He'll be missed, definitely, he'll be missed."
Funeral services are still pending for Ibarra. Pastor Torres said they're making special arrangements for the Marine because they expect a very large crowd.