FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — A 49-year-old brigadier general who died Friday in Afghanistan of apparent natural causes is likely the highest-ranking military officer to die there, according to military records.
Fort Hood announced Brig. Gen. Terence Hildner's death Saturday in a statement posted on its website. Hildner had commanded the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command at Fort Hood since August 2010. He left for Afghanistan in December to support the NATO mission there.
Military officials said Saturday they could not immediately confirm that Hildner was the highest-ranking officer to die in Afghanistan, but a Department of Defense list posted online of deaths in Operation Enduring Freedom did not include any other generals as of Monday.
The Army said Hildner's death was under investigation, although it appeared natural.
"This is a tragic loss for the Army, III Corps and for our Central Texas community," Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr., Fort Hood's commanding general, said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."
The 13th ESC led by Hildner supports other units, handling the distribution of everything from clothing to ammunition and performing maintenance on equipment, according to its website. It includes the 1st Medical Brigade, which provides health care and combat medical service.
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 its reunification.
He assumed command of the 13th Corps Support Command's Special Troops Battalion at Fort Hood in 2003 and was in charge during two deployments, one in Iraq and one following Hurricane Katrina. In Iraq, the battalion provided general logistical support to units around Joint Base Balad and the Abu Gharib prison complex. It provided military and humanitarian support after Katrina swamped New Orleans.
Hildner was born in New Haven, Conn., and listed Fairfax, Va., as his official home. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1984 and attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 1997.
From July 2007 to July 2009, Hildner led the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade at Fort Lee, Va., training more than 20,000 soldiers a year for deployment worldwide.
Col. Knowles Atchison, 13th ESC rear commander, said in a statement that Hildner's death was a shock to the unit.
"Both forward deployed elements and we at home station are deeply saddened by this loss," he said. "We will all pull together through this difficult period and care for one another."