Umatilla teacher's son dies in Iraq


Joshua Tillery, 31, a U. S. Army helicopter pilot and the son of Paula Trueax, a teacher at McNary Heights Elementary School in Umatilla, died January 26 in a helicopter accident in Northern Iraq.

Tillery was a chief warrant officer in the Army's 10th mountain division.

His funeral is at 11 a.m. Friday at Lincoln Memorial Garden Funeral Home in Portland, followed at 1 p.m. with military burial at Willamette National Cemetery.

Tillery had been deployed to Iraq in October on his second deployment to Iraq since 2005.

His mother, Paula, and stepfather, Roger Trueax, live in Irrigon.

Tillery was a 1995 graduate of Banks High School in Washington County.

Tillery had lived in Banks since he was in third grade and enlisted in the Army the summer after he graduated from high school, a family member said. Tillery was born in California, and lived in various parts of the Portland area, including Beaverton.

Tillery died in a crash involving two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters that took the lives of three other men, including one from Washington.

"He loved what he was doing and he believed in what he was doing," said his stepfather. "He was a career soldier."

Tillery lived in New York at Fort Drum with his wife, Stephanie, and three young boys. Stephanie Tillery is pregnant with a fourth child - another boy - expected to be born this May.

Trueax described Joshua Tillery as an excellent father and someone who loved to help people. Trueax said Tillery loved to fly, and graduated from flight school in 2003.

"He basically had his head on straight on his shoulders," Trueax said. "He knew where he was going, he knew where he had been."

Recently, Tillery had been working toward becoming a flight safety officer.

Trueax has known Tillery for about 10 years, since Trueax married Tillery's mother, Paula. Tillery's life changed when he had children, Trueax said.

Tillery last visited his family in Oregon a little more than a year ago, Trueax said.

Tillery particularly liked Western Oregon, Trueax said, and enjoyed dirt bike riding and snowboarding. Tillery bought his twin six-year-old sons dirt bikes and would take them out riding.

In high school, Tillery played sports but wasn't focused on them. Tillery's mother, Paula, told Trueax that children would often come to their house when the family lived in Banks, hoping that Tillery would help them fix their bicycles.

Tillery's friends told his family he was a happy, friendly person who made them smile and helped out whenever he could.

Tillery's father, Steve, flew out to New York from his home in Idaho to be with Stephanie and her children after the family were told about Joshua Tillery's death on Jan. 26. They plan to fly to Oregon when Tillery is laid to rest at Willamette National Cemetery, Trueax said.

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