Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Army Lt. Col. Paul R. Bartz

Remember Our Heroes

Army Lt. Col. Paul R. Bartz, 43, of Waterloo, Wis.

Lt. Col. Bartz was assigned to Headquarters, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.; died May 18, 2010 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered in a suicide car bombing. Also killed were Col. John M. McHugh, Lt. Col. Thomas P. Belkofer, Staff Sgt. Richard J. Tieman and Spc. Joshua A. Tomlinson.

As students graduate from high school, seldom do they realize what great achievements they may accomplish in the future. That was the case of U.S. Army Lt. Col. Paul R. Bartz, son of Robert and Darlene Bartz of Waterloo, who died Tuesday while serving his country in Afghanistan.

“When they say these wars have taken the very best and brightest of our country, Paul's a great example of that,” Richard Jones, former history teacher at Waterloo High School, said. “A lot of kids in school just haven't found their niche and he was an example of that. In school he was just an average student. He really didn't care for school. I am so impressed with what he accomplished in his life.”

Bartz, 43, of Watertown, N.Y., a native of Waterloo, was among five soldiers killed Tuesday when a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device exploded near their convoy in Kabul, according to a press release from the Defense Department.

Bartz was part of a team from the 10th Mountain Division headquarters to conduct key leader training and set the conditions for the 10th Mountain Division headquarters' deployment to Afghanistan later this year.

He served as the assistant chief of staff, G-1 (personnel) with the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 10th Mountain Division (light infantry).

Although, Bartz had moved to Fort Drum in Watertown, N.Y., in June he visited his hometown as often as he could and was home for a visit with his parents in Waterloo in December 2009 where he gave a presentation at St. John Lutheran Church.

“He shared his extensive military career, perspective on the war and places he had served. He attended St. John's Lutheran grade school when he was growing up,” the Rev. Tom Wilsmann, of St. John Lutheran Church in Waterloo, said. “He was a very interesting person.”

He made other trips home over the years including a special trip to Waterloo High School in 2006 to speak to the class of his favorite teacher, Richard Jones. Bartz graduated from Waterloo High School in 1985.

“During my last year of teaching he called me up and wanted to speak to my classes. I wish I would have taped it now,” Jones said. “He did a great job talking to them.”

Jones said Bartz talked to his history students about what high school was like for him and said after high school his initial goals were to buy a car, work at Perry's and drink. He told students those plans quickly changed after his father talked him into going on to college and he received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1989. During that time he joined the Army ROTC to help pay for tuition. That was just the beginning of a very successful career in the military. He shared other stories of his career with the students and at times became very emotional.

“He easily could have been in the Pentagon on 9/11. He said he just happened to be out of the office that day and knew a lot of people that had been killed there,” Jones said. “When he was telling the story he had to pause and fight back tears.”

Bartz had traveled around the world through the military and played a big role in some of the decisions made over the years. He talked to the students about his experience of sitting in on a meeting with only President George Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and one other person before the official decision was made to start the war in Iraq trying to show students what an average person from the small town of Waterloo can be a part of.

“He said his theory on 9/11 was that those 19 guys just got us that day. There wasn't any master plan they just pulled it off,” Jones said.

Others remember Bartz in his recent years as being a very dedicated and determined individual. Elaine Baumann, a close friend of the Bartz family, said Paul was planning to retire in two years but was determined to advance in his rank before retiring.

“He had a wonderful personality and was a very well-liked person,” Baumann said. “He cared so much for this community.”

Bartz was a highly decorated officer, receiving awards such as the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commen-dation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal and the Army Achievement Medal.

He is survived by a wife Michele and a son; his parents; a brother, James; and two sisters, Beth and Debbie; also several nieces and nephews. His parents Robert and Darlene Bartz of Waterloo declined to comment, as did his wife.

Army Lt. Col. Paul R. Bartz was killed in action on 5/18/10.

1 comment:

John Hilburn said...

At the gravesite in Bellingham, WA on Memorial Day, May 2016. Knew him not, marked him in my prayer of thanks as a brother in arms. CDR John Hilburn, USN(ret).