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Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul J. Pillen

Died October 17, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

28, of Keystone, S.D.; assigned to the 249th Aviation, South Dakota Army National Guard, Rapid City, S.D.; died Oct. 17 of a non-combat related cause in Salwa, Kuwait. The incident is under investigation.

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South Dakotans pay final respects to soldier

The Associated Press

RAPID CITY, S.D. — More than 400 people gathered Wednesday for the funeral of a South Dakota National Guard pilot who died while serving in Kuwait.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul Pillen, 28, of Keystone, was a member of the Guard’s 249th Aviation Battalion in Rapid City. He died Oct. 17 in Kuwait of a non-combat related cause.

“We’re here to support Paul and remember him — the great soldier that he was — and support his family,” said Maj. Andy Gerlach, a National Guard spokesman. “It’s always hard, but I think we have the camaraderie in the National Guard to come out and support events like this, and it was shown today.”

During burial at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, South Dakota National Guard helicopters flew in formation over the service while guardsmen served as the honor guard.

Gerlach described Pillen as a man who appreciated life.

“Paul was a big Broncos fan,” Gerlach said. “He had a Mustang that he loved. He loved his family and loved being in the Guard.”

Gov. Mike Rounds asked that flags be flown at half-staff from Wednesday morning until sunset Thursday to honor Pillen and Army Spc. Daniel Bartels of Huron.

Bartels, 22, died Oct. 19 of a non-combat related injury in Mosul, Iraq. He served with Alaska’s 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

His funeral was scheduled for Thursday afternoon at Riverview United Methodist Church in Huron with burial at Riverside Cemetery in Huron.

Thirteen soldiers with ties to South Dakota have died during the war in Iraq.


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