Thursday, September 06, 2007

Army Spc. Thomas L. Hilbert

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Thomas L. Hilbert, 20, of Venus, Texas

Spc. Hilbert was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, Fort Bliss, Texas; died Sept. 7, 2007 in Mosul from wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations. Also killed were Spc. Jason J. Hernandez and Sgt. Lee C. Wilson.

El Paso Times --Family members of the soldiers Saturday remembered Lee Wilson, a Chapel Hill High School graduate, who joined the Army on Jan. 3, 2001; Jason Hernandez, who turned 21 the day he was killed; and Thomas L. Hilbert, who had already booked two hotel rooms in Las Vegas for his family to celebrate his return and 21st birthday in January.

"We were very close," said BillieJo Alexander, Hilbert's older Advertisement

sister. "He loved to have fun. He was very laid-back, and he wanted to make something of himself, something he could be proud of. He was my sidekick. I was supposed to be the one to protect him."

Theresa and Tom Hilbert said they want their son to be remembered as an American soldier and a hero who loved the military.

Hilbert, who joined the Army two years ago after graduating from Venus High School, was recently promoted, Alexander said.

"He was talking about re-enlisting," said Alexander, one of two sisters. "He was very proud to be a cavalry scout. We tried to talk him into changing his (military occupational specialty), and he said no. He was a scout, first in and last out. No matter what they say about the Marines, cavalry scouts are always the first in."

"We may not have always agreed with his decision, but it was his war and he was going to fight it," she said. "He was a hero. They all were."

Almost a year after arriving in Iraq and less than four months before returning to the United States from an extended deployment, three Fort Bliss soldiers -- two nearing their 21st birthdays and another approaching his seventh anniversary in the Army -- were killed.

They are Sgt. Lee C. Wilson, 30, of Chapel Hill, N.C.; Cpl. Jason J. Hernandez of Streetsboro, Ohio; and Cpl. Thomas L. Hilbert of Venus, Texas. They died after an improvised explosive device exploded near their vehicle during combat operations in Mosul, military officials said. Wilson died Thursday; Hilbert and Hernandez died Friday.

All three soldiers were cavalry scouts in the 1st squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

"Every time we receive news like this, it is certainly a tragedy," Fort Bliss spokeswoman Jean Offutt said.

"There are now 26 soldiers who have died in Iraq since the cavalry deployed to Iraq in October. It is a great tragedy for the units at Fort Bliss, for the soldiers who are here with the unit's rear detachment and for their teammates who are still serving in Iraq."

Army Spc. Thomas L. Hilbert was killed in action on 9/7/07.

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