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John L. Hillman, Colonel AUS Retired

John L. Hillman, Colonel AUS Retired, longtime Okmulgee resident, died Sunday morning, February 1, 2004 at his home at the age of 91. He was born at St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada on September 30, 1912 to Hector and Mary Hillman. He graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1933 and on September 4, 1934 enlisted as a Private in Company K, 179th Inf. Regt., 45th Inf. Division. In 1937 he became employed at the Okmulgee Post Office as a clerk and married Geneva F. Betts on October 17, 1938 in Sapulpa. In 1940 was inducted into Federal Service with the 45th Inf. Div. On February 8, 1941 he was commissioned to 2nd Lt. And assigned as supply Officer in Co. G 179th. In April of the following year he was promoted to 1st Lt. Commander and assigned XO of Company D at Ft. Devens, Mass., and was later assigned Company Commander and went overseas, entering North Africa on June 22, 1943. He was transferred to Company C as Commander and departed North Africa in July 1943, going to the beaches of Sicily. He received a battlefield promotion to Captain on October 4, 1943. He later served as Commander of Company I and M and took command of an Anti-Tank Unit. On reaching France, Captain Hillman transferred to 3rd Battalion as executive officer where he was promoted to Major on May 16, 1945 and retained this rank until the end of the war. He was assigned to the Bn Ex Officer and then to the Battalion Commander of the 409th Infantry prior to returning to the United States in September 1945. He was released from active duty on January 22, 1946 at Camp Chaffee, AR. While serving in the Officers Reserve Corps, Colonel Hillman was promoted to Lt. Colonel. When the 45th began to reorganize in 1946, he once again became involved. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion 279th Inf. Regt. As Commander, and when the 2nd Battalion Headquarters was moved to Tulsa, the Regimental Headquarters was moved to Okmulgee, where he was assigned as the Regimental Executive Officer. When the 45th was activated in 1950, he was transferred to the 3rd Battalion as Commander. When arriving in Japan he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion and remained there throughout Japan and Korea. He returned in March 1952 and discharged at Camp Chaffee, AR. Once again he returned to the Okmulgee Post Office as a mail carrier, and remained there until retirement in 1976. In 1952 Lt. Colonel Hillman was assigned to command the 279th Inf. Regt. and was promoted to Colonel on June 23, 1953, where he served until April 30, 1959. On May 1, 1959, the 45th was reorganized and Colonel Hillman was assigned to command the 1st Battalion Group, 279th Infantry. He retired from the Oklahoma Army National Guard on January 1, 1961 and was assigned to he U.S. Army Reserves.

Colonel Hillman attended the U.S. Army Infantry School, Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Army Air Defense School, and the Atomic Weapons GM Orientation. His many awards and decorations include The Silver Star Medal, Bronze Medal Star, 2 d Reserve Forces Medal, Oklahoma Long Serve Medal, American Defense Medal, Victory Medal World War II, Combat Infantry Badge, Combat Infantry Badge d, European Theatre Ribbon, Army Occupation Ribbon (Germany), American Theatre Ribbon, Army Occupational Medal (Japan), Korean Conflict Ribbon, United National Service Ribbon and Six Overseas Bars.

Colonel Hillman was preceded in death by his parents and wife, Geneva.

Survivors include his son, John Stephen Hillman of the home, a brother, James Hillman of Cooksen, Oklahoma, two granddaughters, Stephanie Gayle Hillman of Broken Arrow and Heather Michaelle Hillman-Easley and husband John Easley of Siloam Springs, AR, a niece, Pamela Acton of Okmulgee, a great grandson, Will Easley, and great granddaughter, Mollie Easley, and a countless number of great nieces and nephews.

Graveside Rites will be held 11:00 A.M. Wednesday, February 4, 2004 at the Okmulgee Cemetery. Military Funeral Honors will be provided by the 279th Infantry. Friends may visit the funeral home Tuesday from 10-8 P.M. Casketbearers will be Bill Newberry, John Russell, Jackie Shelton, Marshall Clayton, Lyle Bibb, and Ray Toothacker. Honorary Casketbearers will be Jack Parker, Irvin Jones, Tandy Allen, Dave Holliway, John Sleeper, Arvin Hammock, Jack Jeffries, Jerry Smith, Mac Smith, Bob Watson, Eddie Wilson, Red Rodgers, Henry Stone, Bill Torbett, Keith Niel, Bill Simmons, and Louis Harding. Arrangements are under the direction of the McClendon-Winters Funeral Home of Okmulgee. In Lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Saint Francis Hospice in care of the funeral home.