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Army Spc. Robert L. Bittiker

Died June 29, 2009 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

39, of Jacksonville, N.C.; assigned to the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, North Carolina National Guard, Wilmington, N.C.; died from wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle June 29 in Baghdad. Also killed were Sgt. 1st Class Edward C. Kramer, Sgt. Juan C. Baldeosingh and Sgt. Roger L. Adams Jr.

Funerals scheduled for 2 guardsmen killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Funeral arrangements are set for two of the four North Carolina National Guard soldiers killed in the unit’s largest single combat loss since World War II.

A funeral will be held for Spc. Robert Bittiker on Wednesday at the Jones Funeral Home in Jacksonville. He will be buried at the Coastal State Veterans Cemetery. Mourners are invited to line the roads from the funeral home to the cemetery.

Sgt. 1st Class Edward Kramer’s memorial service will be held Thursday at St. Mark Catholic Church in Wilmington. Mourners are also invited to line the roads from the church to the Wilmington National Cemetery.

Kramer’s family requested donations be made to Step Up for Soldiers and St. Mark Catholic School instead of flowers.

Working on cars was Bittiker’s passion

The Associated Press

Robert L. Bittiker was a hardworking National Guardsman who kept busy as a trucking company foreman, but he always made time for his sons.

“He loved his sons very much — followed them through all their sports,” said Brian Wheat, Bittiker’s stepfather. Bittiker, who worked for Elijah Morton Trucking Inc. and owned a taxi cab in Jacksonville, N.C., also was an avid sportsman who enjoyed fishing.

Bittiker, 39, of Jacksonville, N.C., was killed June 29 when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle in Baghdad.

The Wilmington, N.C.-based National Guardsman enjoyed cheering on the Washington Redskins and working on a beat-up truck and Ford Mustang, said his mother, Mary Wheat.

“They were pretty rough and unfixable,” she said. “But you probably couldn’t convince him of that.”

Bittiker enlisted in the North Carolina Army National Guard in 1990. This was his third combat deployment, having served in Bosnia and then Iraq in 2004. Bittiker’s family has a history of service. His father served in the Marines and his mother worked for the Department of Defense.

He is survived by his wife, Tami; two sons, Cameron, 14, and Ronnie, 18; and a stepson, Robert Jenkins.

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