Remembering a hero, big sister
ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Pictured during the program were, from left, Dan Smith, Tamaqua Post Commander Joel P. Perry; Katie Hartman and Dan Decher. Smith and Decher were involved in making the plaque.
Tamaqua American Legion members continued their mission of "never forgetting veterans" during a remembrance and plaque unveiling service held in honor of a West Penn Township soldier killed in Iraq in 2006.
United States Army SGT Jennifer M. Hartman, 21, was remembered by fellow veterans and family members during an emotional remembrance service held at the post.
Hartman was killed Sept. 14, 2006, after a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated in the vicinity of a West Baghdad electric substation she where was located. Two other soldiers were killed and another 30 were wounded.
"The IED (improvised explosive device) detonated next to the sleeping building of the soldiers' operating base," said Capt. Warren Litherland, rear detachment commander for the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Division. "She was inside the patrol base at the time of the explosion."
A Tamaqua graduate, Hartman, who entered the Army in July 2003, graduated Basic Combat Training at Ft. Jackson, S.C., and Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Lee, Va. Upon graduation, Hartman was assigned to Echo Forward Support Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. In December 2005, she deployed with the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hartman served as a cook with the 4th Support Battalion, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, based in Fort Hood, Texas. Her company was attached to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Division, at the time of her death.
"I am very grateful that she is remembered in her hometown," said Katie Hartman (Jennifer's sister) as she wiped away tears from her eyes.
During the service, Legion and family members spoke about Hartman's impact on the world, recalling prior quotes from friends and family.
"She'll be remembered as being brave, smart, determined and hard-working," said Staff Sgt. Angela Skillern in a memorial service held at Fort Hood on Oct. 19, 2006. "She was a big sister to those in her unit."
Family members spoke about her love for family, having fun and riding fast, to include riding four-wheelers, cars, bikes and even a jet ski.
"I think she would rather have died on her four-wheeler than over there," said father David Hartman during a prior service. Sadly, in the fears section of Hartman's Facebook page, she listed it as, "Getting blown up in Iraq."
A plaque unveiled during the service shows Hartman smiling next to a group of Iraqi children.
"Not thinking about herself, Jennifer would give the children all her food," added Katie Hartman. "She loved to be around the children."
Hartman's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Cluster's, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Combat Action Badge.