May 16, 2014 9:45 PM by Lupita Murillo

Fallen Tucson soldier helped rescue Jessica Lynch in 2003

TUCSON - You might remember the historic photo of Army soldier, and Prisoner of War Private 1st class, Jessica Lynch after being rescued in Iraq, in 2003. Among that group of Army rescuers was a Tucson soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Command Sergeant Major Martin Barreras died Wednesday from wounds suffered in Afghanistan last week. Friends say he was very humble about that dangerous operation. They also tell News 4 Tucson, Barreras was a man of great honor and integrity. He loved his family, his country and playing football for the Sunnyside Blue Devils.

"He was very proud they beat us," says Earl Wadsworth. Wadsworth played linebacker for Sahuaro High School in the early 80's. That's when their paths first crossed. "We played against each other in J.V. and Varsity, and there we were in the Marines." This time, they were on the same team for five years. They both left the Marines and became Army Rangers.

Wadsworth, now with the Arizona Department of Veterans Services was devastated when he heard his friend had been killed. "Soldiers like him don't come along very often. Not only is he selfless in his service, he's intensely professional and he actually cares."

According to published reports, Command Sgt. Major Barreras was also involved in one of the highest profile operations of the Iraq war, rescuing Jessica Lynch. Wadsworth says, "He would have never made a big deal about it."

However, "He would've been really excited that he got to go because they compete within to try and get assigned to highlighted missions."

It's also reported, he handed Lynch off to another soldier to transfer her to the helicopter that rescued her. Then he fended off multiple attacks to recover the bodies of missing U.S. soldiers to bring them home.

Command Sgt. Major Barreras died serving his country. "We lost a good one, a really good one, his awards, his commendations, speak volumes. He was an awesome Ranger, and an awesome Marine."

Jessica Lynch sent out a tweet when she heard about the death of Command Sgt. Major Martin Barreras simply saying, "Sorry to hear this RIP CSM Barreras."

El Paso station KTSM, is reporting CSM Barreras was an advisor for the movie Black Hawk Down. He was stationed at Ft. Bliss, and a memorial is scheduled for June 11. Here in Tucson, his family says they will be holding a memorial later this month.


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