Saturday, January 15, 2011

Army Sgt. Michael P. Bartley

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Michael P. Bartley. 23, of Barnhill, Ill.

Sgt Bartley was assigned to 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Jan. 15, 2011 in Mosul of wounds sustained when an Iraqi soldier from the unit with which he was training shot him with small-arms fire. Also killed was Spc. Martin J. Lamar.

FAIRFIELD, Ill. — A Wayne County, Ill., Army sergeant was one of two soldiers killed Saturday in a training exercise in the northern Iraq city of Mosul.

Sgt. Michael Bartley, 23, of Barnhill, Ill., died when an Iraqi soldier, who apparently smuggled live ammunition into a training exercise, opened fire. A U.S. military official said the shooter was immediately killed by American forces who were running the morning drill at a training center in Mosul.

The official said the exercise was not meant to include live ammunition. An Iraqi Army official said the shooting appeared to have been planned.

Michael Bartley was a 2007 graduate of Fairfield Community High School and the only child of Rebecca Isles of Fairfield.

"I talked to him on Friday," Isles said. "He told me he was doing fine and was in the middle of a big training exercise, getting ready for a generals visit."

Members of the New Beginnings Church in Fairfield gathered Saturday night at the home of Bartley's grandmother, Delta Lewis, to offer the family prayers and comfort.

Isles said her son enlisted in the Army not long after high school and recently had re-enlisted. He was on his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed Saturday. Bartley was a member of a U.S. Army Cavalry unit.

Army officials notified Isles of the death on Saturday evening. She was to meet with military officials Sunday afternoon to begin making funeral arrangements.

"They are going to fly me to Washington, D.C., so I can be there when his remains arrive home," Isles said.

His mother was on hand as her son’s flag draped coffin turned to the States at Dover Air Force Base.

Family, friends and community members are remembering a Wayne County, Illinois, soldier killed during a training exercise in Iraq.

Bartley was a graduate of Fairfield Community High School. Former principal Diana Zurliene, now superintendent of Fairfield Elementary School, said Bartley knew from an early age that he wanted to join the armed forces.

"'(He told me) 'Ms. Z, I'm going to go into the military' and I said, 'Michael, that's a good ambition for you.' And he worked towards that," Zurliene said. "He played sports and he stayed in shape and everything 'cause he said 'When I join I've got to be able to do the PT and everything like that.' So that was always his goal that he was going to join the military and make a future of it."

The flag at Fairfield Community High School was flown at half-staff Monday in honor of Bartley. Fairfield Community High School Superintendent David Savage, said the school will have a moment of silence Tuesday morning and before their first game of the week to honor him.

"Michael was a very special young man, he was very dedicated. And not just to himself, but to his goals and his country," Superintendent Savage said.

"He was always the young man who looked at the glass as always half full. He never looked at the bad side of things, there was always a brighter side," said Superintendent Zurliene.

A former classmate posted this message on

“I really took a hard hit over this. My heart is tore up....he was my friend and we graduated from high school together from FCHS...Class of 2007. We took several courses together and also talked several times. Michael was a good guy who lived life to the fullest. He was a good athlete. He played baseball all four years at FCHS.”

A comrade made the following comment on Michael’s MySpace page:

“Now we have to say bye to you an Lamar I wish I could have been there to take the hit for y'all I know you will never see this but rip burtle”

Sgt. Bartley is a native of Barnhill, a town just a few miles south of Fairfield in Wayne County.

"He enlisted in the Army, and I thought, how appropriate. You know their motto is to be all you can be. Michael lived that," Fairfield Schools Superintendent David Savage said.

Bartley's former basketball coach Chase Curd said he remembers Bartley for his work ethic and optimistic spirit--no matter how many times he was knocked down, he always pulled himself back up.

"He came from a place where he could have gone a whole lot of different directions. And he went the right direction," Curd said.

Curd first met Bartley as his 8th grade basketball coach--He worked with him again when Michael was a senior in high school and volunteered to help coach that same team.

"I love and am proud of every one of my players that I've coached," Curd said, "But I'd be lying if I said that Michael wasn't probably the one I was most proud of."

A pastor at Rebecca Isles church in Xenia, IL said the congregation is sharing her loss.

"Everyone is really grief-stricken by it and really heartbroken by it. We all really felt for Becky," said Pastor Mark Shell of Orchardville Church.

It's really a scriptural thing where when one mourns, everyone mourns."

Army Sgt. Michael P. Bartley was killed in action on 1/15/11.

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