South Georgia Army Captain looks back at Iraq War - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia Army Captain looks back at Iraq War

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March 19, 2004

Mitchell County- It's easy to see why Army Captain Robert Hilliard wasn't thinking much about the anniversary of the war with Iraq on Friday.

"Until I saw it on television today, it just didn't click with me," said Hilliard, as he bounced his baby girl on his knee.

Hilliard is a combat engineer in the 70th Engineer Battalion out of Ft. Riley, KS.

But right now, life is about 14-month-old Gabby. Hilliard returned home this month to his wife Donna and their daughter who was only two months old when he left for war.

He spent the last year leading soldiers though some of the most dangerous parts of Baghdad. But Hilliard returned with every man in his company.

"We were in the middle of it. And I know our task force, we worked side by side on the same streets, doing the same things, had casualties. And we were fortunate. We had somebody watching over us. A lot of people praying for us."

As a combat engineer, he was at peace with their mission. Though there is a lot to be done, he says significant changes are taking place.

"The small government level city councils are formed and they're working on their own. Those are things you don't necessarily see, but those things are working. And that is the foundation for the government and the democratic government."

One year later, the most important thing to remember is the families who lost loved ones in the war. And to know those service men and women did not die in vain.

"There is a greater cause. That we will be safer in the long run. That people like Gabby won't have to fight this on their own home turf, 25, 30 years from now."

And for at least the next 25 or 30 years, Hilliard plans to be here to celebrate, not the anniversaries of war, but the anniversaries of life with Gabby.

posted at 9:22 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com