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Moorpark High School Graduate Killed in Iraq

Chris Hill, a gunner with the Army, died after his convoy apparently ran over a land mine.

March 13, 2004|Amanda Covarrubias And Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writers

A U.S. soldier who grew up in Moorpark was killed in Iraq this week when his convoy apparently ran over a land mine, family members said Friday.

Chris Hill, 26, who graduated from Moorpark High School, was stationed with the Army in Iraq as lead gunner on a Humvee convoy, said his younger brother, Ryan.

Hill was riding in the first unit of the convoy outside Baghdad when the roadside bombing occurred, Ryan Hill said.

"That's as much details as we've been told," he said, adding that he believed another soldier had been killed and a third injured.

After learning of their son's death Thursday night, Adrienne and Ken Hill flew from their home in Moorpark to North Carolina, where Hill's wife, Cheryl, lives with the couple's 1-year-old daughter, Cierra.

Ryan Hill, 21, said his brother was fun-loving and that in high school he was known as the cool guy with the 1966 Mustang.

Their older sister, April Samprone, 28, said she was the first family member contacted by the military about her brother's death. She and her husband and their two children drove eight hours Friday from their home in Mesa, Ariz., to be with Ryan.

The two things about Chris that stood out most, she said, were his sense of humor and the large number of friends he had.

"When I think of Chris, I especially smile," Samprone said. "Of the three of us, Chris was the outgoing, energetic type. He had a lot of positive energy."

Samprone said she had mixed feelings about how her brother died.

"I think it's honorable to say Chris was over there defending us," she said. "But it doesn't justify the loss of life."

Hill initially served three or four years in the Army, and was a member of the military honor guard at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, Ryan Hill said. He had also served in Korea for a year.

After Hill got out of the Army, he reenlisted and went into the active reserves and returned to Iraq last fall, his brother and sister said.

Hill had been scheduled to return to the United States in two weeks.

Samprone said Hill had been excited about his return and had already made arrangements to play golf with friends during a small family reunion planned in Moorpark.

Hill's body is scheduled to be flown to Delaware today. He will be buried in North Carolina, family members said.

A memorial service in Moorpark is planned, but no date has been set.

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