BELFAST — When America needed them, the Hills brothers of Belfast stepped into action.
“All five of us, all together served,” said Basil Hills, a Maine Army veteran who turns 100 in January.
Raymond Hills was the oldest and was drafted into service in October 1941. He was a B-17 tail gunner for the 303rd Bomb Group’s 359th Squadron – the original “Hell’s Angels.” After a “Flying Fortress” he was in got shot down, he wrote a book called “The Last Mission.” He joined the Maine Air National Guard when he got home, and served 32 years. He died in 2012.
Herbert “Richard” Hills graduated from Crosby High School in Belfast in 1936 and moved to Massachusetts for a job. He got married, had a kid and at the age of 26, enlisted.
He survived the last major German offensive during World War II only to die a month later while serving with the Seventh Army in France.
“He was in a Battle of the Bulge in Germany. I understand it was a tough place,” said his youngest brother Carl Hills, an Army and Maine Guard veteran who turns 92 in December.
“We lost our brother, Richard. That was too bad, you know, he was a great, great guy,” added Basil Hills.
The three surviving brothers got together Monday at the Harbor Hill Nursing Care Center, where two currently live. The brothers and their five sisters grew up on a farm in Belfast. Their father served with the 1st Maine Infantry.
Glenn Hills was also a lifelong military man, serving 36 years in uniform.He served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He started with Company K of the 103rd Infantry Regiment in Belfast and retired as a master sergeant with the 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor.
Basil Hills also was a member of Company K when it got activated in February of 1941, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“I remember with Basil in ’41 … that we went into Belfast and watched him march from the post office down to the railroad station to get on the train,” Carl Hills said.
Nearing the end of World War II, “I was 17 but I joined the National Guard in the last couple of months of ’17 and was in there for eight years.”
He then joined the U.S. Army and served with the security forces.
Joy Asuncion, a veteran advocate for Honor Flight of Maine, said the Hills brothers exemplify honor.
“It’s just great we can recognize their family and their history because it’s so important that we don’t forget,” she said.