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Soldier with local ties killed on duty in Afghanistan

South Boston News
Sgt. Robert J. Billings
SoVaNow.com / October 17, 2012
On Monday, the Department of Defense announced the death of Army Sgt. Robert J. Billings, 30, a former Clarksville resident, from combat operations in Afghanistan.

Billings’ father Kelly, who lives in Amarillo, Texas, said the family was originally from Michigan, but after graduation his son briefly lived in Clarksville with his wife Christy (nee Riley). Christy’s parents live in Virginia Beach, but her grandparents Harriet and Lewis Tilghman own property in the Clarksville area.

The two were married for eight years and have four children: Naomi age 3, Elijah age 5, Kayle age 8 and Isaiah age 10.

Hope Billings said of her son, “He was a good man. The life he led with the service is the same he gave to his family.”

The Town of Clarksville is lowering flags at half mast in Billings’ memory.

According to a news release, Billings died Oct. 13 in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device (IED).

During this, his second deployment to Afghanistan, Billings was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Billings graduated from Morley Stanwood High School in Morley, Michigan in 2001. He entered the Army in January 2006. After completing both basic and Advanced Individual Training — to become an infantryman — Billings was assigned to Fort Carson in Colorado.

In 2009 Billings was reassigned to the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. He deployed to Iraq with the 4th Stryker Brigade from September 2009 to August 2010.

Upon his return to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Billings was again reassigned, this time to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. He deployed for the second time, this one to Afghanistan, in December 2011.

In addition to earning an Associates degree in Criminal Justice, Billings successfully completed extensive combat training - Field Sanitation Team Certification (2011), Unit Prevention Leader (2011), Airload Planner (2011), Warrior Leader Course (2010), Combatives Level 1 (2010), Combat Life Savers Course (2009), Force XXI Battle Command Brigade (2007), Military Occupational Specialty: 11B- Infantryman (2006).

His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (two awards), Meritorious Unit Citation, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, Iraq Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (two awards), NATO Medal, Certificate of Achievement, and a Combat Infantry Badge.

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