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Army Spc. Stephen D. Hiller

Died April 4, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

25, of Opelika, Ala.; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; killed April 4 when his unit was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire in Baghdad.

Opelika soldier called hero to many laid to rest

Associated Press

OPELIKA, Ala. — Hundreds of family and friends gathered Wednesday to remember Spc. Stephen “Dusty” Hiller, saying the soldier who died in Iraq was a hero to many.

Hiller, 25, was among eight U.S. troops who were killed April 4 when their units were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. Another Alabama soldier, Spc. Ahmed A. Cason, 24, of McCalla, also was killed in the attack.

Both men were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

Although Hiller died fighting for freedom on earth, he also died to reach freedom in heaven, Army Chaplain Jimmy Ward said Wednesday.

“He is in a place where there is ultimate freedom,” Ward said. “I am proud to wear the uniform that Dusty died wearing.”

More than 200 people filled the Jeffcoat-Trant Chapel to say goodbye to Hiller, who was buried with full military honors.

Ward told those gathered to remember Hiller’s laughter.

Hiller attended Opelika High School before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1998 and was deployed overseas on March 12.

The Opelika native served in the Alabama National Guard during 2001 and 2002, while he was in between tours. He leaves behind a wife, Lesley, and their four children.

Legendary professional wrestler Dusty Rhodes, after whom Hiller was nicknamed, called to give his condolences to the family after hearing the story of how Hiller’s father was a fan of Rhodes’ and dubbed his son Dusty.

“It’s tough to hear of someone so young dying to help protect our country,” Rhodes said. “I feel honored to know that someone with my name was standing up for our country. People like him, they are the real heroes.”

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