An Army carry team carries the transfer case containing the remains of Army Spc. Nathan E. Lillard, of Knoxville, upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, Del., on Tuesday. Lillard died while serving Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
A 26-year-old soldier with family in McMinn County was one of five soldiers killed Sunday in Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Spc. Nathan E. Lillard, of Knoxville, died when insurgents attacked his unit with small-arms fire, according to a Department of Defense news release.
Lillard was in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, based out of Fort Campbell, Ky.
He was an infantryman who joined the Army in November 2006.
Lillard was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Medal and Combat Infantryman Badge during his time in the Army, according to a Fort Campbell release.
His mother, Helen Hyatt, of Athens, Tenn., traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware earlier this week to claim his body.
Lillard's uncle, Chuck Lillard, confirmed that the family learned of his death Monday and would make announcements about funeral arrangements after Hyatt returned.
Fellow soldier Spc. Doug Riggs served with Lillard in training at Fort Benning, Ga., earlier in their careers. Riggs is currently serving in Ramadi, Iraq.
When contacted about his friend's death via Facebook he recalled an incident in which he broke his foot during training at the fort but still had to march back.
"I was having trouble keeping up with the platoon. Nathan told me to hold onto to the straps of his assault pack," Riggs wrote. "He literally pulled me over the hills. He carried his weight and mine that day.
"That is the way he was. That is how I'll always remember him. Self-sacrificing, strong, caring. A hero among men. My friend," Riggs wrote.
Four other soldiers were killed in the Sunday attack -- Spc. Shane H. Ahmed, 31, of Chesterfield, Mich.; Spc. Scott T. Nagorski, 27 of Greenfield, Wis.; Spc. Jesse A. Snow, 25, of Fairborn, Ohio; and Pfc. Christian M. Warriner, 19, of Mills River, N.C.
A total of 1,393 American military personnel have been confirmed dead in the war in Afghanistan.
The following have ties to this region:
* Spc. Nathan Lillard of Knoxville, Tenn. was one of five soldiers killed Nov. 14, 2010, in Afghanistan.
* Sgt. Patrick Durham of the Suck Creek community was killed Aug. 28, 2010, in Afghanistan.
* Lance Cpl. Gregory Posey, 22, of Winchester, Tenn. was killed July 30, 2009, in Afghanistan.
* Sgt. Raymundo “Ray” Morales, 34, of Dawnville, Ga., was killed July 21, 2009, in Afghanistan.
* Lance Cpl. Seth Sharp, 20, of Adairsville, Ga., was killed July 2, 2009.
* 1st Sgt. John Blair (Ga National Guard) of Calhoun, Ga., was killed June 20, 2009, in Afghanistan.
* Sgt. Jeffery William Jordan, 21, of Cave Spring, Ga., was one of three soldiers from a Georgia National Guard unit killed in Afghanistan June 4, 2009.
A total of 4,427 American military personnel have been confirmed dead in the Iraq war.
The following have ties to this region:
* Army Pvt. Thomas Edward Lee III, 20, of Dalton, Ga., died May 29, 2009 in Mosul of wounds suffered when an explosive device struck his vehicle.
* Army Cpl. Michael B. Alleman, 31 — a 1996 Southeast Whitfield High School graduate who had been living in Logan, Utah — died Feb. 23, 2009 in Balad of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.
* Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan W. Dean, 25, of Henagar, Ala., died Dec. 20, 2008 from injuries sustained during a non-combat related incident in Tikrit.
* Army Capt. Darrick Wright, 37, of Nashville — formerly unit commander of the Army Reserve’s 390th Engineering Company in Chattanooga — died Sept. 17, 2008 in Baghdad of non combat-related cardiac arrest.
* Marine Lance Cpl. James M. Gluff, 20, of Tunnel Hill, Ga., died Jan. 19, 2008 in Ramadi while conducting combat operations.
* Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan M. Lankford, 42, of Scottsboro, Ala., died Sept. 22, 2007 in Baghdad of non-combat related cardiac arrest.
* Marine Lance Cpl. Will Chambers, 20, of Ringgold, Ga., drowned on July 1, 2007 just off the shore of Anbar province in a non-hostile boat accident.
* Army Pfc. Travis Haslip, 20, of Ooltewah, died May 19, 2007 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
* Army Sgt. Shawn Dunkin, 25, of Chattanooga and Columbia, S.C., died Feb. 19, 2007 in Baghdad after his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.
* Army Sgt. John Michael Sullivan, 22, of Hixson, died Dec. 30, 2006 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle while on combat patrol in Baghdad.
* Army Sgt. David Weir, 23, of Cleveland, Tenn., died Sept. 14, 2006 when he encountered enemy forces using rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire during combat operations in Baghdad.
* Marine Lance Cpl. Kristopher Cody Warren, 19, of Calhoun and Resaca, Ga., died Nov. 9, 2006 in a non-combat related shooting in Anbar province. The fellow Marine who shot Lance Cpl. Warren while playing with a rifle pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 27 months behind bars during a March 2008 court-martial.
* Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Scott, 24, of Ringgold, Ga., died Jan. 23, 2006 in a non-hostile vehicle accident near Taqaddum.
* Army 1st Sgt. Aaron Jagger, 43, formerly of Rossville, Ga., died Aug. 9, 2006 after an improvised explosive device detonated near his humvee while on combat operations in Ramadi.
* Army Sgt. James D. Stewart, 29, formerly of Chattanooga and a Fort Oglethorpe native, died June 21, 2005 after an improvised explosive device detonated near his military cargo truck in Rutbah.
* Army Pfc. James W. Price, 22, of Cleveland, Tenn., died Sept. 18, 2004 after an improvised explosive device hit his convoy vehicle in Baghdad.
* Marine Lance Cpl. Juan Lopez, 22, of Dalton, Ga., died June 21, 2004 during an ambush in Anbar province.
* Army Spc. Marshall Edgerton, 27, of Rocky Face, Ga., died Dec. 11, 2003 when his camp was attacked with an improvised explosive device in Ramadi.
* Marine Sgt. Brendon Reiss, 23 — a Wyoming native who is buried at the Chattanooga National Cemetery because his wife is from Cleveland, Tenn. — died March 23, 2003 in a grenade blast near Nasiriyah.
Sources: U.S. Department of Defense, icasualties.org, militarycity.com, Southeast Whitfield High School, newspaper archives.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...