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Army Spc. Robert P. Hartwick
Died June 6, 2011 Serving During Operation New Dawn
20, of Rockbridge, Ohio; assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; died of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with indirect fire June 6 in Baghdad. Also killed were Army Spc. Emilio J. Campo Jr., Army Spc. Michael B. Cook Jr., Army Spc. Christopher B. Fishbeck and Army Pfc. Michael C. Olivieri.
‘He fought for us. … He deserves it.’
By Michelle George
Lancaster (Ohio) Eagle-Gazette
SUGAR GROVE, Ohio — As the first motorcycles in Army Spc. Robert P. Hartwick’s funeral procession came into view, a sudden quiet fell over the crowd of 30 to 40 people standing solemnly along U.S. 33 near Sugar Grove.
Those who had American flags held them high above their heads. Others placed their hands over their hearts or saluted the hearse as it drove past.
For some, this past week was the first time they’d heard Hartwick’s name, but that didn’t stop them from coming out to honor the Rockbridge resident who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
“He fought for us. ... He deserves it,” said Lancaster resident Larry Wentz, a Vietnam veteran who served 20 years in the Air Force.
As he struggled to hold back tears, Wentz clutched an American flag and explained how sad he was when he learned of Hartwick’s death.
“It brought back memories of Vietnam ... and the people I knew,” he said.
Hartwick, 20, was one of five soldiers killed June 6 in a rocket attack in Baghdad.
When several residents in Sugar Grove heard the June 15 procession would be making its way from Rickenbacker Airport in Columbus to Logan via U.S. 33, they decided to come out and pay their respects.
Fairfield Medical Center employee Denise Primmer said she first heard about the plan early in the day and immediately knew she had to be there.
“I grabbed this flag and ran,” she said.
Primmer said Hartwick’s death affected her personally because her nephew is in the military and her father-in-law was a prisoner of war during World War II.
“It’s very important that the small communities here come together to show each other their support,” she said.
Mandi Tripp, a Logan resident who knows Hartwick’s mother and father, also heard early in the day about the plan to wave flags as the funeral procession traveled past.
“I left work,” she said. “I told my boss I needed to be here and he said ‘go.’ ”
Tripp said she has two cousins serving in Iraq and knows that if she was the one who had lost someone, she’d appreciate the gesture.
“It’s wonderful that this many people came out,” she said. “All our small towns around here are very patriotic.”
Sugar Grove resident Sherry Oatney said while she didn’t know Hartwick or his family, his death still had an effect on her.
She also held an American flag to show her appreciation for a man who died too young.
“When you hear about it on the news, you always feel bad,” Oatney said. “But this just hits close to home.”