Venus suffered its first war casualty last week when Spc. Thomas L. Hilbert and two other soldiers were wounded in a bomb explosion near their vehicle in Mosul, Iraq.
Hilbert was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, Fort Bliss, Texas. Hilbert’s unit was engaged in combat when the bomb exploded Thursday.
Hilbert and his two comrades were evacuated from the area and Hilbert died Friday at a U.S. medical hospital in Iraq.
Also killed in the attack were Sgt. Lee C. Wilson, 30, of Chapel Hill, N.C., who died Thursday, and Spc. Jason J. Hernandez, 21, of Streetsboro, Ohio, who died Friday.
“He was a lifelong resident of Venus and was recognized with the 13-Year-Group his senior year for having gone to school in Venus for 13 years,” said Kimberly Trask, who taught Hilbert government and is now a counselor at Venus High School. “He was very personable and friendly and passionate about his beliefs. I was not surprised that he went into the military.”
Trask said she remembered Hilbert’s engaging smile.
“Like any student he had his ups and downs but he worked hard to graduate with his class,” said Trask. “He was also involved in the youth group at First Baptist Church (of Venus.)”
Hilbert was a graduate of the Class of 2005.
Trask said word of Hilbert’s death spread fast in this small town 30 miles southwest of Dallas.
The sign in front of the Venus What-A-Burger read “In memory of Thomas.” A What-A-Burger spokesman said they planned to put a more detailed message with funeral arrangements up later this week.
Funeral arrangements for Hilbert had not been finalized with the U.S. Military as of Monday. Hilbert’s body was expected to arrive back in Texas Tuesday or Wednesday.
Those wanting to pay their respect or find out the time of visitation and funeral services are asked to contact the Midlothian Funeral Home at (972) 723-9884 later this week.
Hilbert’s death marks the seventh casualty from the area to be killed in the line of duty in recent years.
Timothy Lee Gauna of Ennis was killed Oct. 12, 2000, aboard the USS Cole when suicide bombers attacked the ship while it was taking on fuel in the port of Yemen. Marine Capt. Lyle Gordon, of Midlothian, was killed Jan. 26, 2005, while piloting a CH-53 helicopter about 220 miles west of Baghdad. Army Sgt. Shawn Graham, 34, of Red Oak, was killed Sept. 25, 2005, in Balad, Iraq. Army Spec. Aaron P. Latimer of Ennis was killed May 9, 2006, in Mosul, Iraq. Navy corpsman Kyle Anthony Nolen, 21, of Ennis was killed in the line of duty in Iraq on Dec. 21, 2006. Army Spec. Aaron Lee Preston, 29, of Midlothian, was killed Dec. 25, 2006, on a street in Baghdad. Spec. Chadrick O. Domino, 23, of Ennis, was killed May 31, in Baghdad when his Army unit encountered enemy small arms fire while on patrol.
Mosul is located in Northern Iraq and straddles the Tigris River. Mosul is the third largest city in Iraq after Baghdad and Basra. Mosul is one of the most culturally diverse in Iraq with a mix of Sunni, Shi’ite, Turkish and Kurdish neighborhoods.