The body of US Army Sgt. Nathan Hillman arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022. His family in the Pittsburgh suburb of Plum will bury him in a private ceremony after Christmas. Coffee or Die Magazine composite. Photos courtesy of the US Army and Tina Hillman.
The body of slain US Army Sgt. Nathan Hillman has arrived in Pennsylvania, and his family is preparing to bury him there in a private ceremony after Christmas.
Tina Hillman, the 30-year-old sergeant’s mother, told Coffee or Die Magazine on Wednesday, Dec. 21, that “today was rough,” but Thursday's viewing “will be even harder.”
Authorities say a fellow soldier at Fort Stewart in Georgia — an infantryman, Spc. Shay A. Wilson, from the Cambria Heights section of Queens, New York — killed the sergeant in the compound of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, known as the “Spartan Brigade,” on Dec. 12 by firing a single round from a personally owned firearm.
The Army has charged Wilson, 28, with a sole count of murder under Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Commanders have not publicly disclosed a motive for the shooting of the chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist.
“He always took the time to help somebody, listen to the people that came to him for help,” Tina Hillman, 53, said.
A US Army honor guard transferred the body of Sgt. Nathan Hillman to a waiting funeral home hearse on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, at Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of Tina Hillman.
Growing up in Arizona, Hillman and his younger sister, Tabitha, “had the bond of twins,” their mother said.
Although his home of record is listed in Army records as Plum, a Pittsburgh suburb, he was raised in the Grand Canyon State, according to his mom.
She told Coffee or Die that when her son first began talking about enlisting a decade ago, he wanted to be a cook. But then he took his ASVAB test and “scored so high” that he began exploring other occupational specialties, like operating aerial drones.
“He never let his rank matter. Everybody was equal,” she said. “He had endless energy and helped people reach their goals. So many people remember him saying, ‘Just do better.’ And that is how he lived his life, trying to do better.”
His military decorations included two Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, and the Air Assault Badge.
US Army Sgt. Nathan Hillman (Aug. 19, 1992-Dec. 12, 2022) will be buried in a private ceremony after Christmas, according to his family. Photo courtesy of Tina Hillman.
Sgt. Nathan Michael Hillman was born on Aug. 19, 1992, to Tina and James B. Hillman in Glendale, Arizona.
He is survived by his wife, Nichole; daughters, Lilyan Kate and Aurora Rae; his parents; and his sister.
Tina Hillman told Coffee or Die her son was very close to his wife’s parents, Joette and Mike Franitti of Plum, and his wife's siblings, Brittany and Anthony.
“They loved him as well and are devastated,” she said. “We are all together trying to help each other through.”
Both the sergeant’s funeral and his burial will be conducted privately.
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Noelle is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die through a fellowship from Military Veterans in Journalism. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and interned with the US Army Cadet Command. Noelle also worked as a civilian journalist covering several units, including the 75th Ranger Regiment on Fort Benning, before she joined the military as a public affairs specialist.
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