Sunday, June 26, 2011

Army Spc. Kevin J. Hilaman

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Kevin J. Hilaman, 28, of Albany, Calif.

Spc Hilaman was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; died June 26, 2011 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small-arms fire.

A soldier from Citrus Heights died when his unit was attacked in Kunar province of Afghanistan on June 26.

Army Specialist Kevin Hilaman died when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire, according to a press release issued by the Department of Defense.

But his father, Bernie, wants the community to know his son, and every other soldier killed overseas, is not just another number.

"He loved his country, he loved defending our freedoms," Bernie said.

Kevin enlisted in the Army immediately after he graduated from Mesa Verde High School in Citrus Heights.

Kevin served seven years in the Army and did two deployments in Iraq; but that was just the first time.

Bernie said Kevin came home to be with his wife, Sara, and his 10-year-old step-son Ben. But, he soon realized the economy wouldn't allow him to find a job -- and his true passion was defending this country.

Kevin re-enlisted after a year of civilian life and was deployed to Afghanistan in April. He was killed a day before his 29th birthday.

His death is bittersweet to Bernie, who also served in the Army, as did his father.

"I'm sad, I'm very sad," he said as he fought back tears. "But this is what we do, we knew the risks."

Unfortunately, Kevin knew them all to well.

Before deploying to Afghanistan he called his father four times; every time to say he didn't think was coming home.

"He was very afraid," Bernie said. "He said, 'Dad, I don't think I'm coming home this time'. I told him, 'Of course you're coming home'. I just didn't think he'd come home in a coffin."

Kevin and Sara lived in Berkeley, and Albany for a time before moving to Hawaii. He was based there, in a group called "Tropic Lightning".

Bernie also made it a point to thank the United States Army for their support. He said a liaison officer has been with the family ever since they heard of Kevin's death.

"I couldn't have done this without him," Bernie said.

Army Spc. Kevin J. Hilaman was killed in action on 6/26/11.

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