Saturday, April 01, 2006

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael L. Hartwick

Remember Our Heroes

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael L. Hartwick, 37, of Orrick, Mo.

Chief Warrant Officer Hartwick was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 4th Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died April 1 when his Apache helicopter crashed while conducting a combat air patrol in Baghdad. Also killed was Capt. Timothy J. Moshier.

ORRICK, Mo. (AP) — Chief Warrant Officer Michael L. Hartwick Jr., who died when his helicopter crashed in Iraq, was being remembered in his hometown as a born leader who always had a passion to fly.

Hartwick, 37, of Orrick, and Capt. Timothy Moshier, of Albany, N.Y., were killed Saturday when their AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter crashed. The military said the crash possibly was caused by hostile fire west of Youssifiyah, which is about 10 miles southwest of Baghdad.

"When I heard the news, I thought, 'That's one of America's best and brightest,'" said Sandra Pendleton, who taught Hartwick social studies at Orrick High School. "If you had a son, he was what you would have wanted him to be."

Both Hartwick and Moshier were assigned to the Army's 4th Battalion, 4th Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

A statement attributed to Hartwick's family said he died "while fulfilling his life dream of flying the AH-64 Apache helicopter while serving his country. He was a true Patriot."

An extremist group posted a video on the Internet on Wednesday claiming to show Iraqi insurgents dragging the body of a U.S. pilot on the ground. Parts of the video were blurry, and the face of the man being dragged was not shown. The U.S. military said the authenticity of the video could not be confirmed.

The death brought sadness — and confusion — to his hometown.

"People don't know what's really happening here," said Ken McAfee, a retired Orrick High School coach who had Hartwick in a physical education class. "Nobody really knows yet when Mike will be coming back."

Hartwick graduated from Orrick in 1986 and married his high school sweetheart, Kerri. She and their two young children still live in Orrick.

He had an all-American boy resume in high school: member of the National Honor Society and student council, senior class president, and football and basketball star. But he was remembered more for his kindness, his faith, his natural leadership ability and the desire he always had to fly.

Rick Wrisinger, current principal at the school, was Hartwick's coach in junior high school. He remembered Hartwick once telling a man who had been a tail gunner in Vietnam that he was going to fly a helicopter one day.

"You know, you hear kids say things like that all the time, and you think 'We'll see,'" Wrisinger said. "But he followed through and did it."

Pendleton said Hartwick did a tour of duty with the Air Force but when he couldn't get into flight school, he joined the Army so he could get into its flight school.

Pendleton said she wrote to Hartwick's wife in a sympathy card that Michael was "one of the reasons it's so good to be in education. Even as a teenager, he was a good person, intelligent, nice to everybody.

"I know this makes it sound like he walked on water, but I've dealt with hundreds of kids in 28 years, and he was just one of the best. He came from a very strong Christian family and he had a faith in God, and I think that's what made him how he was."

A few years ago, when Hartwick returned to Orrick after flying missions over Kosovo, the school held a surprise welcome home party for him in the school gymnasium.

"Nothing thrills me more than that we did that," Wrisinger said. "He told me that day that 'This makes it all worth it, to know people really do care.'"

Wrisinger said Hartwick had given him posters of the Apache helicopter he flew and the Viper helicopter, which he had qualified to fly.

"He was just always real proud of what he was doing," he said. "I would tell you the most impressive thing about Mike was his respect for people and for life."

Wrisinger had just sent Hartwick a care package last week, and Pendleton said the National Honor Society had been collecting things to send him. The society will instead send the package to Hartwick's unit in Iraq, she said.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael L. Hartwick was killed in action on 04/01/06.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this was a very kind and helpful man. he will be missed greatly!



from NSL