Coastal Empire Family Mourns Latest Iraq Casualty - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/01/03

Coastal Empire Family Mourns Latest Iraq Casualty

Sgt. Nathaniel Hart, Jr. Sgt. Nathaniel Hart, Jr.

We have more information on the latest American casualty in Iraq. Another Hunter Army Airfield soldier, Sgt. Nathaniel Hart, Jr., died Monday night in Tillil, Iraq, when his vehicle went off the road and rolled over. Hart was a member of the 416th Transportation Company, 260th Quartermaster Battalion, and had been deployed since March. He was the 38th soldier from Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield killed since the war began in Iraq.

Sgt. Hart was more than just a soldier. His family, who lives in Midway, remembers him as a loving father, husband, son and brother. Monday was a day of highs and lows for the family. Betty Hart turned 56, and on her birthday she received a beautiful card from her son Nathaniel, still in Iraq.

"I was rejoicing, and he said, 'Momma I love you,'" she recalled.

But Monday night, her joy came crashing down when five men in Army dress greens showed up at her door. After learning that Nathaniel was killed in a truck accident, his family is still looking for answers, especially his sons Gabriel and Nathaniel III.

"There's four people in the truck and the truck tipped over. He was the only one that died," said young Nathaniel. It's not an easy thing to swallow for an eight-year-old, who vividly remembers the day his dad left for war. "We had to spend time with him to show him how much we loved him," he said.

Those who knew Sgt. Hart best say his family meant the world to him. "He was a family man. He loved his boys," said Betty.

He joined the Army following in the footsteps of his father and grandfathers. Little did anyone know that's where Nathaniel Hart, Jr., would ultimately give his life.

"I wanted him to be remembered as a person that was a hero in war and a hero as a child of God," said Betty.

Sgt. Hart's funeral is tentatively set for next Saturday. They're still waiting on the body to be returned.

Reported by: Holly Bristow, hbristow@wtoc.com

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