Family calls Chandler soldier killed in Somalia a hero

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Alex Conrad was so eager to join the military, he did not walk at his Hamilton High School graduation. (Source: Jacob Conrad) Alex Conrad was so eager to join the military, he did not walk at his Hamilton High School graduation. (Source: Jacob Conrad)
Conrad, who grew up in Chandler, died Friday, June 8 in Somalia by indirect enemy fire. (Source: Jacob Conrad) Conrad, who grew up in Chandler, died Friday, June 8 in Somalia by indirect enemy fire. (Source: Jacob Conrad)
Alex was described as brave, outgoing and loved the thrill of roller coasters. (Source: Jacob Conrad) Alex was described as brave, outgoing and loved the thrill of roller coasters. (Source: Jacob Conrad)
He also liked to golf whenever he had a chance to come back to the Valley. (Source: Jacob Conrad) He also liked to golf whenever he had a chance to come back to the Valley. (Source: Jacob Conrad)
Since the news of Alex's death, his friends, coaches, teachers, colleagues have reached out to the family to show their support. (Source: Jacob Conrad) Since the news of Alex's death, his friends, coaches, teachers, colleagues have reached out to the family to show their support. (Source: Jacob Conrad)
CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The family of fallen U.S. Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Alex Conrad wants the Valley to remember him as a hero.

Conrad, who grew up in Chandler, died Friday, June 8 in Somalia by indirect enemy fire.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Army says soldier from Arizona killed in Somalia]

On Thursday, his younger brother Jacob talked about his life and legacy.

"He loved his family. He loved his friends. He loved the country. He loved the Army. And he was a hero," said Jacob.

[RELATED: Fellow soldiers, friends share memories of Chandler soldier killed in Somalia Friday]

Jacob said Alex joined the Army because it's a family tradition. Their grandfathers on both sides served and so did their father, Roy, who was present at Thursday's news conference, but didn't speak.

"The Army family is what my family does," said his younger brother Jacob who's a member of the U.S. Army Reserve and the Phoenix Police Department.

Alex was so eager to join the military, he did not walk at his Hamilton High School graduation.

"The Army had the spot for him that day and that’s what he wanted and the job he wanted so that’s when he left," said Jacob.

While growing up in Chandler, the two were competitive with each other and involved in sports including football, San Tan Soccer teams and Chandler Youth Baseball.

He described Alex as brave, outgoing and loved the thrill of roller coasters. He also liked to golf whenever he had a chance to come back to the Valley.

"He was proud to be part of the Special Forces group," he said. "He always told us that was what he was going to do and he was proud to be a soldier. He was proud of his deployments and the time he spent in the Army."

The last time Jacob communicated with his brother was about a week before his death.

"He said he was busy," recalled Jacob. "The Army loves to work people and he loved to work. He loved what he did. He loved being out with the guys. Loved the comradery." 

Since the news of Alex's death, his friends, coaches, teachers, colleagues have reached out to the family to show their support.

"Definitely the Valley cares about us and we’d like to say thank you," he said. "(They said) marvelous and beautiful things about Alex, things we didn't know about him. They've been awesome."

However, in lieu of flowers and food, the family is asking anyone who wants to help to donate to the Pat Tillman Foundation.

"They’ve (Pat Tillman Foundation) reached out to us as well and offered services to us and they’ve been really wonderful as well as Fraternal Order of Police," he said.

"Alex is supportive of Pat Tillman because he’s a soldier and Alex was a Cardinals fan," he said.

Staff Sgt. Conrad is survived by his younger brother Jacob, his older sister Christie, father Roy and mother Diane.

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Maria HechanovaMaria’s last name is pronounced HETCH-UH-NO-VAH. She joined the 3TV/CBS 5 News team in July 2017, but is no stranger to Arizona.

Click to learn more about Maria.

Maria Hechanova

Prior to moving to Phoenix, she spent four years in Tucson reporting for KOLD News 13 and KMSB FOX 11 covering wildfires, VA transportation issues, and Southern Arizona's largest school district.

Before that, she worked for WLNS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Lansing, Michigan where she learned a lot about the auto industry and almost never took off her parka.

Maria also reported in Yuma where she had the incredible opportunity to fly with the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels and cover countless military homecomings.

She got her start at KPHO in 2008 as a college intern and is happy to be back and working with professionals who helped shape her career.

Shortly after college, Maria landed an internship with the TODAY Show in New York City thanks to the help of the Asian American Journalists Association.

She graduated from Northern Arizona University where she was also a member of the women's swimming and diving team.

Maria grew up in the Valley and went to Ironwood High School in Glendale.

When not reporting the news, she’s hunting for the best carne asada tacos or bowl of pho, swimming laps, or hanging out with her USMC veteran husband and rescued Shih Tzu.

In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you also can find Maria at @MariaHechanovaTV on Instagram.

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