New Letterkenny Army Depot equipment dedicated to fallen soldier

October 10, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas speaks at a ceremony Wednesday dedicating the depot's new route clearance vehicle positioner to the memory of U.S. Army Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Bitner, who died in Afghanistan and is seen in the poster at left.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Letterkenny Army Depot dedicated a route clearance vehicle positioner Wednesday in memory of U.S. Army Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Bitner of Greencastle, Pa.

Bitner, 37, was killed April 23, 2011, in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device.

Gary Rosenberry, chief of Letterkenny’s route clearance vehicle division, said dedicating the new equipment as the “Bitner Positioner” was a fitting tribute to the fallen soldier.

“Everything we do here is in support of the war fighter. And he was the local war hero that lost his life in the struggle for us all,” Rosenberry said. “So, anything that we can do to improve the likelihood of the boys coming home is great. It’s a fitting tribute to our war fighter and the fallen hero.”

Rosenberry’s welders and production line supervisors watched Wednesday’s dedication ceremony in building 350 on the base.

The Bitner Positioner will expedite the production process because vehicles can be rotated 360 degrees while they are being worked on, he said.

Rosenberry said the weld is stronger and safer since the welding is done on a flat surface.

Letterkenny’s Commanding Officer Colonel Victor S. Hagan said Bitner paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

“Thank you for joining us on this solemn occasion as we pay our respect to a fallen comrade,” he remarked during the dedication ceremony.

Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas, who has known Bitner and his family, said Bitner’s love of country and service comes from his family’s example.

Both of his parents were active in the fire service (in Greencastle), Thomas said.

Roger Bitner was an officer with Greencastle Rescue Hose Co. and later chief, he said.

“His service came from a service-oriented family,” Thomas said.

He said it’s a fitting tribute that a man who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country has a piece of equipment that will ultimately save lives.

Ben Thomas, speaking on behalf of the Bitner family, reflected on the former Greencastle resident’s life.

“Let us celebrate Benjamin Franklin Bitner,” he said. “He was a friend, a soldier, a warrior, a Green Beret — join me in celebrating his life and his service.”

Bitner was born on July 4, 1973, in Hagerstown and was a 1991 graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School.

Sgt. First Class Julius Kitchens served with Bitner. They first met in 2007.

Before the mission to Afghanistan, Bitner put them through the paces, Kitchens said.

“We trained hard because we knew where we were going was one of the most violent places in the world,” he said. “He (Bitner) was the glue.”

“When Ben died I became the team sergeant and realized the massive responsibility,” Kitchens said.

But, he said he knew what to do because of Bitner’s example.

“I get to continue his legacy by following his example by living my life to the best of my ability and in service to my country,” he said.

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