Hilliard, Jack D. (608th, 643rd)

Jack-Hilliard-1Jack D. Hilliard

Biography:  Jack D. Hilliard was born on January 2, 1925, in Lakeland, Florida.  He was the son of Hiram P. Hilliard and Ruby Irene Canup and attended the Winston Grammar School and Kathleen High School.  He left school in 1940 after completing the 9th grade.  

Service Time:  Jack entered the service on January 4, 1941, at Jacksonville, Florida.  His enlistment record identifies that he was 18 years old at that time although he had really just turned 16.  He was sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for basic training and assigned to the 8th Division Field Artillery Battalion.  They were soon changed into the 8th Division Antitank Battalion, Battery C (see below) until it was converted to the 608th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Jack was placed in the Pioneer Company (see below). He moved with the unit to Camp Hood, Texas, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri., Camp Atterbury, Indiana, and Camp Gruber, Oklahoma.  The 608th was disbanded and the men sent to other units.  Jack was now a sergeant and was transferred to A Company of the 643rd TD Battalion, where he remained for the duration of the war.  Jack distinguished himself during his time with the unit, receiving a Bronze Star. He was discharged at San Luis Obispo, California, on September 21, 1945. 

8th Div. Antitank, Battery C Group Photo – For some reason, Jack isn’t in the group photo but after all these years, he was still able to identify a few of the names of the men, which I have listed on page two of the photo – WARNING LARGE PHOTO.

608th Pioneer Company Group Photo – Jack is seated in the second row from the front, 7th from the left. WARNING LARGE PHOTO.



Shown above, left, is Jack during training at Fort Jackson behind a tank and at right ,as a Corporal at 17 years old.

Shown in the photo to the left is Jack and his gun crew: L to R: Frank Dodd, Gordon Lugten, Cliff Guyette, Frank McNulty and Jack.  A better group of guys could not be found. Their tank destroyer was named “Rebel Hellcat”. 

Jack also provided a photo of Company A  of the 643rd TD Battalion while stationed at San Luis Obisbo, CA in the fall of 1945.  Jack is not in the photo because he had already been discharged. WARNING LARGE PHOTO. 



When Jack arrived home, he made his residence in Lakeland, Florida, and worked at the Atlantic Coastline Railroad Company. On August 31, 1959, he married the former Jessie Lou Crane who was the daughter of Noah Joshua Crane and Nancy Catherine Cook of Marion County, Alabama.  They had two sons, Richard Dale, born in 1960 and Timothy Earl in 1963.  Jack retired from the ACL Railroad and later moved to Phil Campbell, Alabama in June of 1978.  He began to raise cattle until an illness forced him to quit in 2003.













Jack passed away on April 3, 2014, and was buried at the Edgar Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Phil Campbell, AL.