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Steelton man killed in motorcycle crash 'had no fear whatsoever,' loved ones say - PennLive.com

Steelton man killed in motorcycle crash 'had no fear whatsoever,' loved ones say
by CHRIS A. COUROGEN, Of The Patriot-News
Wednesday July 15, 2009, 9:50 PM

When police told Joseph D. Hillestad's family about the motorcycle crash Monday night that took his life, nobody was really surprised that he was traveling at a high rate of speed. That was just the way the 2000 Central Dauphin East graduate lived his life.

Hillestad, 28, of the 900 block of Orchard Drive in Steelton, was killed when his 2007 Yamaha R6 struck a concrete barrier along the ramp connecting Front Street in Harrisburg to Interstate 83, throwing him into a steel support beam and on to the railroad tracks 40-feet below.

It was not the first time the decorated Marine veteran of the Iraq war had crashed. Once he was knocked unconscious after wrecking on a four-wheeler ATV while riding with friends. He'd bought his Yamaha on a visit to his father's home in Fulton, N.Y. two years ago. At the time, Hillestad was still hobbling about on crutches after wrecking his first motorcycle, a Kawasaki he'd bought about a year after returning from the war.

Putting aside the crutches, Hillestad hopped on the new bike to take it for a spin. "First thing he did was pop a wheelie and take off down the road," said his father, Stephen F. Hillestad. "He was always wide open. He played hard. Everything he did was full out."

In Iraq, Joe had served as a truck driver shuttling ammunition on Ambush Alley during the battle of Nasiriyah.

"He told me stories, in detail," Hillestad's father said. "He compared it to the movie 'Blackhawk Down.' He said 'We lived that for 14 days and nights.' He had no fear whatsoever. He'd drop off one load and he was ready to make the next run."


Sad story, eh?

Tough to lose a hero who gave so much, and at the same time it is easy to imagine him popping wheelies with his ball cap on backwards, risking the lives of others. Dropping the crutches to do a wheelie on a new bike doesn't sound like responsible riding to me. Also the article says that he killed a Kawi already.

That said, I give my best to his friends, family, and those that served with him. Sounds like even with proper gear he would have been lost after hitting a steel beam and falling 40 feet to the tracks below. Their loss must be tremendous and my heart goes out to them. We all lose when a soldier loses his/her life.
 

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After going through what he (and others) have gone through...its not hard to see why they ride like that.

Very sad though. :frown:
 

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After going through what he (and others) have gone through...its not hard to see why they ride like that.

Very sad though. :frown:
Very true... I have lost friends and parts of friends over there and the ones that have made it back are having a rough time. Especially with getting help, so they slip through the cracks and start self-medicating.

I even had to fire a buddy of mine recently which was really tough. He lost a part of a leg and some fingertips to a mortar in Iraq and is in a lot of pain. He gets frustrated easily due to his PTSD and then he gets angry. Sad part is that it is more frustrating to him than to me, but finally I had to let him go (as an employee) but I am hanging on as a friend.

His greatest challenge came when his dad died on a HD test ride when he returned from the War. The brakes were faulty and he rolled into an intersection where he was killed by a truck. The family recieved a nice settlement, but you folks know how well cash mends a broken heart :( I was very happy last week when he sold his race-bike and bought a cruiser... perhaps he will slow down a tad.

Bless all of them for their sacrifices.
 

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I am a vet and a rider. For two years I did the post deployment health reassessment (PDHRA) interviews for Afghanistan and Iraq deployments. Soldiers are trained killers. How would you deal with that? Riding helps. If you don't know, you can't understand. Ever had that conversation with a non-rider? We all know and embrace the risks.
 

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You guys are lucky in the sense that today symptoms are recognized and help is so readily available. I'm a Navy man, a Cold War submariner. I walked past 16 ICBMs to go to work every 18 hrs. Knowing the end of the world is literally just a pushbutton away really messes with the old noggin once in a while. Sure, we did our jobs punching holes in the ocean hiding from the Commies- thank God we never got shot at. But when I got out some 35 yrs ago nobody gave a crap what happened to us once the uniform was off. Even the VA was fighting against us, reeling from the aftermath of Vietnam and all the fallout from that.

Google "41 for Freedom" to see some of my world.
 
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