He died serving his country, now his story is being shared with America.
Thirteen years ago, the First Cavalry Division deployed from Fort Hood, Texas. They were supposed to be on a peacekeeping mission, but four days later, an Iraqi militia ambushed one of their platoons. Eight Americans, including Army Spc. Stephen “Dusty” Hiller, 25, of Opelika, Ala. died that day in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq.
Now, Dusty’s life is being remembered in a National Geographic television network mini-series called The Long Road Home. Based on the 2007 book by ABC News journalist Martha Raddatz, the mini-series chronicles the ferocious 8-hour long ambush on the First Cavalry Division, which later came to be known as ‘Black Sunday,’ and the soldiers’ heroic fight for survival. It also tells the story of the their families who waited back home for them.
“Being in the military was Dusty’s dream,” Dusty’s mother, Beth Hiller said in a statement. “It was definitely hard reading the book in 2007 because it was like reliving 2004. I was mad, angry and sad all at one time.”
Prior to losing his life, Dusty has just learned his wife Lesley was pregnant. Raddatz details what happened following the day after the attack, in detail as gut-wrenching as any battle story.
“She opened the door and saw an army chaplain. Another officer in uniform was with him. There wasn’t a chance for either visitor to say a word.
” ‘No!’ Lesley yelled. She was frantic, panic-stricken. ‘You all got the wrong house!’
“She slammed the door.
“The officers stayed outside and began calling her name softly.
“After a moment she opened the door a crack.
” ‘Are you Mrs. Hiller?’ one of them asked.
“She shook her head. ‘You have the wrong house,’ she insisted.
” ‘Is your name Lesley?’
” ‘No,’ she said again. ‘You got the wrong house!’ Then she started to scream.”
The officers followed Lesley Hiller into the house. She knew, of course, why they were there. She understood. It didn’t matter how carefully or humanely the military tried to conduct such visits; in the end the was the same.
The series premiered last week, and seven more episodes will continue to air on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. CT.