Letterkenny dedicates equipment to fallen hero
October 29, 2012
LETTERKENNY ARMY DEPOT, Chambersburg, Pa.-- The new route clearance vehicle welding positioner at Letterkenny Army Depot was dedicated to the memory of Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Bitner, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C., in a ceremony at the maintenance facility Oct. 10.
"The piece of equipment that you see behind me from this day forward will be known as the Bitner Positioner and will serve as a daily reminder for our work force that our Soldiers are relying on Letterkenny to ensure we remain the best equipped Army in the world," depot commander Col. Victor Hagan said.
Bitner joined the Army in 1991 before graduating from Greencastle Antrim High School in Greencastle, Pa. He attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection in 1999 and graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course as an engineer sergeant. On his 10th operational deployment Bitner was serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan when his life was taken after sustaining wounds from an improvised explosive device on April 23, 2011.
A close family friend, Benjamin Thomas, asked everyone to celebrate Bitner's life. He shared stories of Bitner as a young child and his fonder memories of riding bikes, building forts and working on his jeep.
From the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Sgt. 1st Class Julian Kitching, spoke about his experience serving alongside Bitner. He was a leader by his example and had energy, focus and commitment to excellence every day.
"When I met Ben in 2007 he became my mentor. Ben got us ready and we trained hard. He wasn't just the builder on the team, he was the glue," Kitching said. "When I took over for Ben as team sergeant I realized the massive responsibility I had, but I knew what to do by Ben's example, not by anything he told me."
Hagan, acting depot sergeant major, Master Sgt. Joseph Schall along with Bitner's father Roger and mother Beverly unveiled the plaque reading, "We are proud to dedicate the Bitner Positioner in memory of Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Bitner, Greencastle, Pennsylvania, for his honorable service and for making the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of liberty and the cause of freedom."
The Bitner Positioner will perform work on route clearance vehicles, which are equipped to detect, analyze and dispose of any explosively formed penetrator or improvised explosive device and will protect Soldiers from similar dangers that tragically took the life of Bitner. It will be a vital piece of equipment as it will allow the route clearance vehicle work force to substantially reduce process cycle times and return equipment more efficiently into the hands of the Soldiers. Welding can be conducted in position as opposed to in overhead or vertical positions and produce a greater quality weld by not fighting the effects of gravity on the molten weld.
The depot is the center of industrial and technical excellence and the Army's depot source of repair for the route clearance vehicle program.
With the dedication of the Bitner Positioner, Bitner will forever be a part of Letterkenny Army Depot.
"Let us never forget all that Master Sgt. Bitner did and stood for. May all who work in the shops, tour our facility and receive the product be touched and encouraged by his sacrifice," Hagan said.
Bitner's military awards and decorations include six Bronze Star Medals, Purple Heart, two Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals with "V" device, three Army Achievement Medals, four Army Good Conduct Medals, three Army Reserve Components Achievement Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, four Afghanistan Campaign Medals, two Iraq Campaign Medals, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, three Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbons, Army Service Ribbon, four NATO Medals, Special Forces Tab, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Parachutists Badge and Military Free-Fall Badge.