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Harry Hillman, WWII Navy vet, Customs worker; April 15, 1924 -- April 6, 2012

Harry "Bud" Hillman -- who served as a gunner's mate aboard the aircraft carrier USS Shangri-La during the shelling of Tokyo in the last days of World War II, and went on to work in the U.S. Customs Service for nearly 40 years -- died Friday in Kenmore Mercy Hospital after a long illness. He was 87.

A native and lifelong resident of Buffalo, Mr. Hillman served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 until he was honorably discharged in 1946. He received his basic military training at the Sampson, N.Y., Navy Training Base and then was assigned to gunnery school in Norfolk, Va.

He served in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the North Atlantic aboard the USS Bronstein, a destroyer escort that his family said was given a presidential citation for sinking the most German submarines in one day in the North Atlantic.

Mr. Hillman next went to the South Pacific and on to Tokyo. There, he served as a gunner's mate third class aboard the Shangri-La, which sent airplanes to strike airfields around Tokyo until Japan's capitulation was announced Aug. 15, 1945.

After the war, Mr. Hillman joined the U.S. Customs Service, eventually becoming Port Director at Halifax, Nova Scotia. After his retirement from the Customs Service, he worked as an assembler at Dynabrade until he retired once again at 82.

Mr. Hillman's son, David, was killed by a suicide bomber on Feb. 7, 2011, while he was working as a civilian contractor for the United States in Kandahar, Afghanistan. David Hillman was a retired agent for the U.S. Border Patrol.

Survivors include Mr. Hillman's wife, the former Angeline Abate; a daughter, Diane Strawbrich; and a sister, Alice Cora.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. Paul's Catholic Church, Delaware Avenue and Victoria Boulevard, Kenmore, following prayers at 11 a.m. in Lester H. Wedekindt Funeral Home, 3290 Delaware Ave., Kenmore.