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Marine Staff Sgt. Justus S. Bartelt

Died July 16, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

27, of Polo, Ill.; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died July 16 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Born on July 4, Marine had longed to serve in military

The Associated Press

Justus Bartelt was born on the Fourth of July and decided roughly a dozen years later that he would to serve the country whose independence that day celebrates.

He planned to join the military — a goal that was, like much of his childhood, shared with his slightly younger cousin David.

“There wasn’t a street in town, a tree we didn’t climb, shoot paintballs from,” David Bartelt said. “There wasn’t a ditch we didn’t jump with our dirt bikes. There wasn’t any stone unturned.”

Justus Bartelt’s mother, Jeannie Kyker, said he’d been “a tyrant to his sisters, as any brother would be.”

“He was a best friend to those who knew him as a friend,” she said. “He was a true and loyal family member and he was a true and loyal marine.”

Bartelt joined the Marines after graduating from Polo Community High School in Polo, Ill., in 2001.

When he was deployed in February, he instructed his mother not to worry, she said.

The 27-year-old died July 16 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province during his third tour of duty. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

Survivors include his father, Steven, and three sisters, Shayann, Simber and Kellen.

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