Isle-related soldier dies in Iraq


POSTED: Saturday, June 27, 2009

A memorial service was to be held in Kuwait today for a 23-year-old Army reservist who died Wednesday during convoy operations in Iraq with the Hawaii Army National Guard.

The soldier was identified as Spc. Casey L. Hills of Salem, Ill. who was sitting in the front passenger seat of a Humvee that rolled over. Two other soldiers in the Humvee suffered minor injuries. They were identified as Sgt. Talifaie Tuufuli and Spc. Billy Gibson.


All three soldiers were members of Charlie Company, which is normally stationed in American Samoa. The unit is part of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, which is one of the units attached to the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Brigade Combat Team.

A spokesman for the Army Reserve at Fort Shafter said he didn't know which of the two injured soldiers was the driver.

Lt. Col. Mike Peeters, commander of the 100th Battalion, said that Hills was not supposed to have been on the convoy security mission.

“;This was an extra mission he volunteered to do because another soldier is going through his final preparation to receive his citizenship,”; Peeters said in an e-mail to the Star-Bulletin, “;and we needed someone to pull extra duty.”;

The two injured soldiers are being treated at the Camp Arifjan Medical Facility. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation, the Pentagon said.

Hills enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard in March 2005 before he transferred to the Army Reserve and was assigned to the 100th Battalion after it was called to active duty in August. He was single. This was his first deployment.

Peeters described Hills as “;a hard working, quiet, unassuming soldier who worked very hard. He was well liked by his buddies and was going through life when he was recalled back to service from the IRR (Individual Ready Reserve). He never complained about being called back and always carried his fair share.”;

Hills was the third soldier belonging to the 29th Brigade to die during the latest deployment.

All of the deaths were non-combat related.

Spc. Cwislyn K. Walter, 19, assigned to the 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, died Feb. 19 of injuries suffered in a single-vehicle accident outside Kuwait City.

Before the 100th Battalion deployed to Iraq in November another soldier—Julian Manglona, a native of Saipan—collapsed after a six-mile run in the North Fort Hood training area in Texas and died on Oct. 9.

Next month, the 1,700 citizen soldiers of the 29th Brigade will complete their deployment. They will go to Fort Hood before being released from active duty in August.