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Army Spc. Adam J. Harting

Died July 25, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of Portage, Ind.; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 42nd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; killed July 25 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Bradley fighting vehicle in Samarra, Iraq.

Soldier from Indiana killed in Iraq explosion

Associated Press

PORTAGE, Ind. — A soldier from northwestern Indiana who was killed in Iraq this week had planned on joining the military since he was a child.

Spc. Adam J. Harting, 21, died Monday when an explosive detonated near an armored vehicle in Samarra, Iraq, the military said. He and his twin brother gave their father letters when they were young saying they wanted to become soldiers.

“Little contracts that they both wrote,” said the soldier’s father, Jim Harting of Valparaiso. “He believed in what he was doing.”

Harting grew up in Portage, graduating from Portage High School in 2002.

He and his twin brother, Alex, both were speaking with military recruiters before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Those attacks sealed their decision to sign up, as Alex Harting joined the Air Force, their father said.

Adam Harting also spent time in Portage High School’s ROTC program.

“I remember him coming up to me in the hallway and saying he was going to join the Army,” said Maj. John Johnston, who oversees Portage’s ROTC. “I saw him on TV once guarding something over there.”

Harting was interviewed by Time magazine in 2003 for being one of the youngest soldiers, then 19, to arrive in Kuwait as part of the Iraq operation.

“I just figure there’s a lot of people here who take care of me,” he told the magazine, referring to superiors who were assigned to watch out for soldiers like him.

He was assigned to the 42nd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart, Ga.

Harting’s death raises to 44 the number of Indiana service members who have been killed in the Iraq war.

Motorcade escorts body of fallen soldier to hometown

PORTAGE, Ind. — The body of a northwestern Indiana soldier was returned to his hometown accompanied by a motorcade of police cars and fire trucks that joined in along the route from a Chicago airport.

Spc. Adam J. Harting, 21, died July 25, when an explosive detonated near his armored vehicle in Samarra, Iraq, the military said.

On Monday afternoon, the procession that started at O’Hare International Airport slowly made its way through Portage, 40 miles east, where dozens of friends, and people who did not know the soldier, turned out to greet it.

Drifter’s Restaurant and Lounge owners Dan and Rhonda Hedger gave Alex Harting and his twin brother, Adam, their first jobs. They and their patrons watched the motorcade.

“Went back for his buddies,” Roger Saurborn said. “There’s nothing else you can say.”

Rhonda Hedger didn’t hold back her tears as police cars led the hearse carrying Harting’s flag-draped casket through town. Police cars from Portage, Porter County and Gary, trucks from the Portage Fire Department and members of the American Veterans Motorcycle Riders Association joined the procession.

“Such a good kid,” Hedger said. “I just can’t believe it. I love him.”

The 2002 Portage High School graduate was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 42nd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga. His death raises to 44 the number of Indiana service members to be killed in the Iraq war.

“It’s just a reminder,” said Drennen Gaffney, a technical sergeant in the Air Force, who waited with his family. “The price is high. The least we can do is come out and show our gratitude.”

Gaffney’s family does not know the Hartings. But when his wife, Laura Gaffney, learned about the procession, she called local businesses so they could put up signs to encourage people to turn out, she said.

Some along the route held hand-drawn posters reading, “Portage’s Hero,” “Thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice,” and “You’re forever in our hearts.”

— Associated Press

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