Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Marine Lance Cpl. Eric Hillenburg

21, of Marion, Indiana.
Hillenburg died as result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. Died on December 23, 2004.

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Marine Lance Cpl. Eric Hillenburg.


Contributions to the Families of the Fallen


Leave a message in memory of this servicemember, and/or to the loved ones left behind.

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"Eric, thank you for your sacrifice and service. I never knew you, but it's clear you were a good man who have everything for his country."
Ben of Washington, DC

"I remember. You were a great man. Thank you, Eric."

"Still haven't forgot about you. Miss you!!! Thank You"
Matt A of South Carolina

"May your fond memories of your loved one be just that wonderful and May You realize that Jesus is Lord. Thank you for your son's presence in Iraq. I also was there from Kokomo to California to Iraq in 2003-2004. Sincerely USMarine Vet."
Matthew of CORONA,CA

"You watched my Back, up on that roof that day,I have never forgotten that look on your face when you said, " I got ya SSGT" The time has not passed that I don't think of you and the ultimate sacrifice you made.
God Bless You Brother,until I see you at Heavens gate,
"Semper Fidelis"
GySgt Kevin Geppert of Pittsburgh, Pa USA

"You are not forgotten My friend, I moved home about 8 months ago, ill stop by soon"
Will Lovins of Hamlet Indiana

"This is a link to the memorial video of Raleigh C. Smith who was a friend of Eric. Eric is pictured in the video with Raleigh doing what they did best together, laughing. May the memories of their lives live on forever in our hearts. copy and paste this link in a new window to view the video. http://www.facebook.com/v/1519738310856"
Ryan Jellesed

"Ernie, you best heart I will every know. I miss you, and think of the time we shared often. Thanks."

"Eric and I went through boot camp together at MCRD San Diego Platoon 2087 Echo Company. Because Eric and I were two of the shortest recruits in our platoon, we were often at the end of the line together in marches and humps. I have some indirect pictures of Eric at our graduation if his family would like them. Also if anyone from our platoon is out there I’d like to get in contact with you. My email is raymondd.downs@hotmail.com.
I think about Eric and all the guys I know that paid the ultimate sacrifice everyday and it was an honor earning the title with them."
Raymond Downs (Sgt/USMC '01-'06) of West Monroe, Louisiana

"I am always thinking of you and the times we shared"

"Eric waited 9 hours in the hospital to be there when my daughter was born. We had a lot of fun times in the bangor years. My family will always remember and love you. RIP brother"
Sgt. Schneider Michael of Lindenhurst, NY

"We were roommates in Bangor and had some great times with you brother. You will not be forgotten and I will always remember what you did for all of us and our country. You made the ultimate sacrifice and you are my hero. Love you and miss you brother. You will forever be in my thoughts and prayers."
Sgt. Brandon Adams of 3/7 WPNS co. OIF II

I think back to all the times we spent at church in Bot Camp, i must say that you helped me find got back then, still missing ya, always in my prayers with a few other Devil Dogs that have passed....

Miss ya Ernie,

William Lovins
Cpl USMC (Former)
Fredericksburg, Va"

"I wish I could have gotten to know you better man. You are a true hero and have inspired my call to duty. I'll see you in heaven."
A close (yet not so close) relative of Nearby

"”Honor and Remember” - “Project Compassion” We love our Soldiers! We love our country and we cannot express enough love and compassion to the families of our fallen heroes. War does not discriminate – It breaks our hearts to see the faces of the fallen. We want to give this gift to you. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization! Over 1,660 portraits have been completed and shipped to the parents and or spouse - at no cost as this is a gift from one American to another!
Contact us directly at Projectcompassion@manti.com or go to www.heropaintings.com . If you have already had a portrait completed, we pray that you are enjoying the portrait and God Bless You.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Project Compassion - Kenna of Manti, Utah USA

"I cant believe it happened like this...everday your truly missed:(
But Jesus Christ surely knows, about the heroic acts you showed!"
Jay of Terre Haute

"Enrie, I will always remember you....."

"December 19, 2008
To the family of Lance Cpl. Eric Hillenburg:
Eric gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"Ernie, you were one of the best person I ever met. Looking back it seems as though we hit it off from the start. I think of you often and will never forget you, thanks."
3/5 81's Marine

"To Eric, and Family. My deepest sympathy for your loss. I briefly served with 3/5 in Fallujah, and in the area on that fatefull day, and knew eric, along with the other two Marines lost with him. Not a day goes by that I dont think about all three Marines. May god bless your family.."
SSgt Gonzalez of Fresno Ca

"To the Family of Eric Hillenburg,
I know it has been quite some time since your loss, but I want to let you know that Eric is not forgotten. I served with Eric in Bangor Washington, he was a great Marine and a good friend. After I left Washington I lost touch with Eric, and unfortunately didn't hear the news until sometime later. It was very saddening for me to hear. I try to remember the good times we shared, and that how proud I am of him for the sacrifices he made for his family, friends, and country. I will always remember Eric, and my thoughts and prayers are forever with his family."
Kevin Weatherby of New York

"Dear Eric' Mom and your family all,
I am a Chinese mom and a born-again Christian, I absolutely understand your feelings. because, I am also strongly missing my son -John Gao, a teenage Christian who laid down his own 15.6 year life for his classmates two year ago in the Atlantic Beach Currents.
But, we should have steadfast faith that our dear sons never "dead" to let us lose them. they just rest in the Lord' Arms due to their sacrifice for others (“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13 “) and their faith in the Lord and their love to all of us during their lives in this world . we will reunite with them someday in Eternal Kingdom by the Lord Faithful Promise, let's expect that day joyfully and peacefully. Amen !

May the peace, joy from the Lord be with you and your family !

Grace of Flushing, NY/U.S

"Miss you bud. We had some good times in 1st platoon."
1stLt Wengel of 2d Bn, 3d Marines


"Dear Eric Hillenburg Family, My sincerest condolences on your loss. My name is Marc Dull, I am a USAF Veteran and an Artist from Illinois. Thank you for your Eric's Honorable Service and Ultimate Sacrifice for America and it's Values. His Legacy will endure by God! I found Eric's Memorial page while doing some research for a very important project that I thought you might want to know about. I just returned from Camp Pendleton where I visited the Commanding Officer of the 5th Regiment. I am preparing to sculpt a large monument specifically for the 5th Regiment and the Fallen Heroes in Operation Iraqi Freedom for the Memorial Garden area on Camp San Mateo there. Please e-mail me at dullart7@cs.com if you would like to contribute any input or feedback. I would be honored by your participation on behalf of Eric! Semper Fidelis, God Bless you and your Family, Salute"
Marc Dull of Illinois

"To the family and friends of Lcpl. Hillenburg. I served with your son, brother, or friend, in the An Bar provience of Al Fallujah Iraq. I have never known a man who was more concerned about the well being of others than that of himself. Lcpl. Hillenburg was in my team, and to tell the truth, he always made us laugh. In good or bad there was always a joke to tell. On Dec 23rd 2004, the world lost a truely remarkable young man by the name of Eric Hillenburg. His memories are forever embedded into the hearts and minds of the marines who served with him. Our prayers to his family, and friends, and our deepest condoliences for their loss. "Gone, but NEVER forgotten."
Semper Fi"
Cpl. Snell, Steve of 3/5 wpns Camp Pendelton, Ca USA

"Cpl Hillenburg

Proud Marine, hero, you graduated many years behind me in platoon 2087; you fell on the exact day 23 years after my 2087 graduation. Maybe you sang that song as we did. It still rings,

If I die in a combat zone, box me up and send me home. Pin my medals upon my chest and tell my mother I did my best."

The two promises we made to each other as Marines are these:

You will never be forgotten. You will not be left behind. We will bring you home and you will be remembered as long as there exists the Corps to give the respect you and your family so richly deserve."
LCpl. Michael Huang, 0311 of Dallas, TX

"Corporal Hillenburg, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"To the family of Eric Hillenburg, I am so sorry for the loss of your love one.He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Hopefully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need someone to pray with you or someone to talk to please call or write my pastor at Gateway Community Church: Rev John B. Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd. Covington Ga. 30016 phone 770-787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ,"
Polly Ballew of Covington,Ga. U S A

"To Eric's family,
I left Indianapolis with eric to boot camp at San Diego, we were in platoon 2087, from there he went to ITB and i went to MCT, we were in boot camp together and we were close, I am sorry for his loss and I keep him and all of you in my prayers. God Bless Us All!!!! I found out that eric had passed on in january his picture was in the marine corp. times and I couldn't believe it.
If you and your family need anything here is my email address...eric I'll see ya someday!
Cpl. Lovins William J. of Okinawa, Japan

"My Heart goes out to the Hillenburg family. They are all wonderful people. Eric will always be missed and Loved very much. He was a wonderful person and his memory will remain strong. The Hillenburgs are in my prayers and thoughts."
Erin S. (friend of Eric's) of Avon, IN

"To Eric's Family and Friends:

On behalf of the Blanco-Caldas family, we send our sincerest condolences. We share the same loss ... the same pain. Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time and we thank you for your soldier's bravery and sacrifice.


The Family of Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas, 82nd Airborne
KIA Iraq 12/28/2003.
Gloria Caldas (The Big Ern's Mom) of San Antonio, Texas

"May God bless your family in this time of loss and grief. Thank you for your loved one's sacrifice. He is a true hero."
The Stout family of Grant County, IN

"Eric--- We'll miss you more than words can describe.. we'll see you real soon buddy."
Jordan of Bloomington, IN

"To Eric's many family and friends,
I offer my deepest condolences to you.
Although I never knew Eric personally, I am deeply moved that he has sacrificed to make the world a better place. He will never be forgotten.
Please know, that I as a Canadian, am grateful to those who are serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. May God bless you and give you much comfort in these difficult days ahead."
Hana (friend of Alice M.-member of Eric's home church) of Bowden, Alberta, CANADA


Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Eric, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you ALWAYS. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"To the family and friends of Lance Corporal Eric Hillenburg,

Those we hold most dear, never truly leave us. May you find comfort in love's everlasting connection.

In the Support section of this web site you will find links to many groups that support you at this crucial time. The Marine Comfort Quilt group would be honored to send a quilt to the next of kin. There are many, loving and caring Americans from all over the United States that will never forget the sacrifice that your loved one has made for our Freedom. Please use our link and register so we can send you our "Love Stitched Together."

Proud Marine Mom and Proud Member of Marine Comfort Quilts"
Sandra Moudy of Placentia, California

"Thank you Eric for proudly defending the freedom that we all cherish. You are our hero and will be thought of each day we raise our flag in the front yard. Semper Fi Marine. From a grateful American family,"
The Shaw family of Pasadena, Maryland

"Thank you Eric Hillenburg, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Lance Cpl. Eric Hillenburg:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Eric for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Lance Cpl. Eric Hillenburg:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Eric, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on