Saturday, April 23, 2011

Army Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Bitner

Remember Our Heroes

Army Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Bitner, 37, of Greencastle, Pa.

MSgt Bitner was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died April 23, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.

Bitner, who was posthumously promoted from Sergeant 1st Class to Master Sergeant, was part of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Msgt Bitner was born July 4, 1973, in Hagerstown. He graduated from Greencastle-Antrim High School in 1991, enlisting in the Army that same year. His service included tours in Afghanistan, Africa, Kosovo, Kuwait and Iraq. He was serving his sixth tour of duty overseas when he was killed.

Bitner was a member of Rescue Hose Co. No. 1 in Greencastle, Fire Chief Kevin Barnes said. Honoring their own has been a long-standing tradition at the Rescue Hose Co. The memorial plaque at the fire station now bears the name of Benjamin F. Bitner.

“It’s something that we have done for as long as I’ve been involved,” said Brian Barkdoll, company administrator, who joined the fire department in 1975.

The memorial plaque is a place to honor and reflect on their contributions.

“As has been widely reported this week, one of our family made the ultimate sacrifice on April 23 while serving our country in Afghanistan,” says a statement on the company’s website. “To SFC Benjamin Bitner and those fighting to protect our freedom — THANK YOU for your service. To the families and loved ones, we offer our appreciation. To the Bitners and those left behind, we give our support and prayers — and a promise to never forget.”

Greg Hoover, superintendent of the Greencastle-Antrim School District, said he has known Bitner’s family for many years. He was an assistant principal at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School when Bitner was a student there.

Hoover said he was in charge of student discipline while working as an assistant principal, and he recalled having Bitner in his office. Hoover said he and Bitner were always able to work out issues. He described Bitner as “just a good kid. I’d describe him as happy-go-lucky.”

Hoover, who also is a member of the fire department, said Bitner’s father was the department’s fire chief many years ago.

From friends:

You were the definition of a true soldier. You knew when to joke and when to turn it on. You would always laugh with me, but at the same time keep me in line. I am deeply honored to have fought by your side. I look up to you and hope I can do as much great as you have done. Thank you for all the encouragement along the way(even the push ups). I will see you again someday. ~Matthew P.

My first memory of ben was in minor league baseball when we were team mates. Back then the parents pitched to us kids and during the first game ben was up to bat and the first pitch (instead of letting the catcher catch the pitch) ben caught it with his bare hand and threw it back to the pitcher and said “how bout a better pitch this time” And the memories only got better the longer i knew him…. Im proud of you Ben! (aka JELLO B.)

I graduated with Ben. No matter how bad of a day I was having, he always seemed to put a smile on my face. He was one of those guys who was never lost for words and always made a lasting impression! I thank you for every smile you gave me, every time we irritated each other, and every time we had. ~ RIP Ben (we will meet again soon!)~Sherri H.

He leaves behind his wife, April, and two sons, in addition to his parents Roger and Beverly Bitner.

Army Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Bitner was killed in action on 4/23/11.

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