BLUFFTON, IN, USA U.S. Army MSG, HHC, 76TH INFANTRY BRIGADE, (24TH INFANTRY DIVISION), INDIANAPOLIS, IN KABUL, AFGHANISTAN 03/26/2005
Master Sergeant Michael Thomas Hiester, was a leader among the nearly 90 Bluffton, Indiana unit guardsmen who did almost six months of peacekeeping duty in Bosnia — serving there as a platoon leader for 3rd Platoon, E-238th Cavalry. Their unit was called up again one year later on Easter Sunday, March 27, 2004. He deployed with Headquarters 76th Infantry Brigade in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the mission name for the Afghanistan campaign. On April 7, 2004 he departed for a tour of duty “in excess of one year.” Master Seergeant Hiester died in Kabul, Afghanistan, when a mine detonated near his military vehicle. He was thirty-three years old.
Michael was the Operations and Intelligence Sergeant for the Bluffton unit in the Indiana National Guard and a member of the Bluffton Fire Department for more than 13 years since the start of 1992. He was one of four Indiana National Guardsmen killed when their military vehicle struck a land mine in central Afghanistan. Training of Afghan troops had been the primary mission of Michael’s unit as well as other Guard units representing more than 1,100 Indiana National Guard soldiers who were among the 17,000 U.S. soldiers fighting the Taliban-remnants-led terrorist elements, believed to be harboring and hiding al-Qaida militants in Afghanistan.
In a written statement, Indiana’s Governor Daniels said:“Four brave and irreplaceable citizens have lost their lives for all of us in the noblest of causes. I ask the prayers of every Hoosier for their families as we grieve and await their return home.”
While his State of Indiana wrote about him, Michael also corresponded with his home and city council members. While serving in Bosnia in 2002 part of what Michael wrote notes: “I am asked often why we are in the Balkans, as well as other places around the world. Kelly Hake sums it up so elegantly in Stars, Stripes and Sacrifice: The thirteen stripes not only represent the original thirteen colonies that conceived the notion of our freedom, their colors also honor our country‘s greatest men. From basic liberties to sweet justice, etched in those white lines lies the promise of our nation. The lifeblood spilled by our armed forces is mourned in broad red streams across this most recognized badge of American splendor. Every freedom we have shines there, sandwiched between crimson lines of sacrifice. prayers and letters mean so much to the men here in Bosnia. God Bless, and we will see you all soon.’’
Michael’s words echo his personality and appreciation for his life and American citizenship. Born March 7, 1972, in Bluffton, he was the son of Thomas and Kay (Davison) Hiester. He was married to Dawn Espy on April 30, 1994, in Bluffton. He was a full time member of the Indiana National Guard. He was also a member of the First Church of Christ, Bluffton, Indiana,and the Bluffton Fire Department. He is survived by his wife, Dawn; his parents, and his children, Adam Michael Hiester and Emily Dawn Hiester, as well as his sisters, Megan E. (David) Kilander of Warren and Michele S. (Terry) Marcum of Bluffton, Indiana.