A soldier from Opelika is among the latest fatalities in the war against terrorism. Dusty Hiller was killed over the weekend in Iraq, the victim of an ambush. "He was a real good son. He could do anything he put his mind to doing," says his dad Steve Hiller
He has the sense of pride that perhaps only a parent can have. Now he's feeling the pain that only happens when a parent must bury his child. "I didn't want him to go. I told him it was crazy, it was the wrong time. And he's a grown man, he wasn't going to listen to me that's what he wanted to do," says the grieving father.
Hiller says as a teenager, Dusty got into mischief and was sent to juvenile boot camp. That sparked his desire to join the Army. He got out then re-enlisted. Hiller says, "he wanted to retire. He wanted to be like my father. My father retired from the Army and that's what Dusty wanted."
Dusty grew up haflway around the corner from Trinity United Methodist Church. The people there say he believed in the mission that sent him halfway around the world. Associate pastor Earl Ballard says, "he said that he was excited about going; that he had found his place in the Army and was doing what he loved to do. And was wanting to make a difference and believed in what we were doing in Iraq."
At Trinity, Dusty did mission work in Honduras and helped build a church. While stationed in Texas he sent Ballard a gift. A minister's robe in camouflage. "Ii hung it in my office out here just as a reminder to pray for Dusty. Because I knew he was going to be in danger; and I wanted to use it as a daily reminder to pray for his safety and pray for all of our troops," says Ballard.
Last weekend Dusty was driving an officer, when their humvee was ambushed. A rocket propelled grenade killed them instantly. A little while earlier he sent an e-mail to his dad. "He told me that he knew that I loved him and he loved me," says Hiller.
Dusty's wife is pregnant, the baby is due in August. Right before Dusty died he learned he was having a son. He'll be named after his dad.