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Brigadier General from Fairfax Dies in Afghanistan

Terence Hildner, 49, highest ranking officer to die in Afghanistan.

Command Sgt. Maj. Guitaud Leandre, 13th ESC, hands Cindy Hildner an artillery shell moments after it was fired from a cannon in her husband’s honor at Fort Hood Feb. 9. Brig. Gen. Terence J. Hildner, the 13th ESC commanding general died in Afghanistan Feb. 3 of apparent natural causes.

Command Sgt. Maj. Guitaud Leandre, 13th ESC, hands Cindy Hildner an artillery shell moments after it was fired from a cannon in her husband’s honor at Fort Hood Feb. 9. Brig. Gen. Terence J. Hildner, the 13th ESC commanding general died in Afghanistan Feb. 3 of apparent natural causes. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Military

Editor's Note: See sidebar "Cannon Salute Honors Hildner" for additional information including funeral arrangements. Updated Friday, February 10, 2012

Brigadier General Terence J. Hildner of Fairfax, a highly-decorated officer who received the Bronze Star Medal for combat heroism, died Feb. 3 in Kabul of apparent natural causes, military officials announced Saturday.

Hildner, 49, was the highest ranking officer to die in Afghanistan, according to Defense Department officials.

Cannon Salute Honors Hildner

FORT HOOD, Texas – Family and friends of the late Brig. Gen. Terence J. Hildner joined Fort Hood leaders on Thursday, Feb. 9, to honor the commanding general with a cannon salute fired at noon.

Hildner, the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) commanding general, died in Afghanistan Feb. 3 of apparent natural causes.

Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, fired 11 rounds in one-minute intervals. The cannon salute is a traditional courtesy bestowed upon a general officer following his or her death, and the number of rounds fired is associated with rank, according to a statement released by Fort Hood.

A memorial service for the general will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 18 at the Spirit of Fort Hood Warrior and Family Chapel. The funeral is scheduled for 8:45 a.m. Feb. 29 at the Memorial Chapel at Arlington National Cemetery.

"This is a tragic loss for the Army, III Corps and for our Central Texas community," said Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr., III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his Family and friends. The command will remain focused on assisting the Family through this difficult time."

Hildner served as commander of the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) at Fort Hood in Texas until his deployment to Afghanistan in December to support the NATO training mission. According to its website, the ESC performs a number of support functions, including maintenance on equipment and distribution of ammunition and clothing. The ESC includes the 1st Medical Brigade, which provides combat medical services and health care.

"The unfortunate and untimely death of Brigadier General Hildner was a shock to our unit and families," Col. Knowles Atchison, 13th ESC rear commander, said in a statement released by Fort Hood on Saturday. "Both forward deployed elements and we at home station are deeply saddened by this loss. We will all pull together through this difficult period and care for one another."

IN 2003, Hildner assumed command of the 13th Corps Support Command's Special Troops Battalion at Fort Hood. During nearly three years in command, his battalion was deployed twice - first to Iraq, supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom by providing logistical support to units around Joint Base Balad, as well as the Abu Gharib prison complex. The second deployment came in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, providing both military and humanitarian support. The 13th ESC led by Hildner supports other units. Hildner served in Iraq during both Operation Desert Storm and the 2003 U.S.-led war. He also served in Kuwait and was part of the last U.S. patrol along the East-West German border before reunification of Germany.

From July 2007 to July 2009, Hildner commanded the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade at Fort Lee, Va., training more than 20,000 soldiers annually.

A native of New Haven, Conn., Hildner began his career with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Bliss after graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1984. In 1988, he was reassigned to Germany, where he commanded a ground cavalry troop. During his company command, Hildner's troop deployed to Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, as well as conducting the last U.S. patrol along the East-West German border before reunification.

Returning from Germany, the general served in several assignments at Fort Hood to include 2nd Armored Division comptroller and aide-de-camp to the 4th Infantry Division commanding general.

HILDNER’S AWARDS include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Valorous Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal.

"This is a tragic loss for the Army, III Corps and for our Central Texas community," said Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr., Fort Hood commanding general, in the Feb. 5 statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

An investigation into the death is pending, according to Christopher Haug, chief of media relations at Fort Hood.

"All deaths in the combat zone are investigated," said Haug, adding that Hildner did not die in combat.