January 11, 2010 Jamie Lowe was killed in Afghanistan.
January 16, 2011 Michael Bartley was killed in Iraq.
Michael’s funeral will be held next week in the same church where Jamie’s funeral was held exactly a year ago. The location of that church is indicated by the red circle on the map that follows:
The two blue circles in the middle are the home and high school of Jamie.
The two green circles farther south are the home and high school of Mike.
They both graduated from their respective high schools in 2007 which are both near US 45, 13 miles apart. They probably met as opponents on the playing fields of their schools.
A year ago, Wayne County had its first military funeral since the Persian Gulf War when we evicted Iraq from Kuwait. These wonderful photos were taken by Denny Simmons of the Evansville Courier & Press on January 20th of last year. These images were captured at Jamie’s funeral. They will soon be repeated for Mike.
Jamie died in Afghanistan which continues as our primary effort. Mike died in Iraq where American KIAs have become less common, as we help them help themselves. Iraq has been invaded, pacified and reborn. Most of the remaining violence there is inter-religious, mostly Muslim against Muslim but also anti-Christian.
Mosul is Iraq’s second-largest city. 18 days before Mike was killed there by an insurgent posing as a member of the Iraqi security force, the Mosul Chief-of-Police was assassinated. He had been on the front line battling the insurgent terrorists, primarily al-Qaeda in Iraq. Mosul had suffered 50 bombings and gun assaults in the 10 days before the chief’s death. Pre-dawn on December 29th, multiple gunmen and three suicide-bombers attacked a police compound. Two of the bombers detonated themselves inside the police station, bringing down the building.
Mike was killed in a similarly suicidal attack. He was training Iraqis so they can maintain order without our help and we can begin our pull-out this summer. One of them turned on him. At noon on Saturday, January 15th the original story of the treachery was published and that evening Mike’s mother was informed. There were no names in that story. Two days later on Monday, his hometown newspaper introduced the world to Michael Bartley. From his rank, this photo must have been taken during the first of his two Iraq tours.
Also on Monday, Mike arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where he was met by his mother, Rebecca Isles. She had authorized this photo of the transfer when her son first arrived on U.S. soil.
And also on Monday, a suicide bomber driving a car killed one person in an attack on the convoy of the governor of the western Iraq province of Anbar.
The next day, Tuesday, a suicide attacker killed 60 (Sixty!) people as they lined up to join the police force in Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit. My neighbor Bob Morrissette was shaken by that blast. I had just exchanged email with him.
On Wednesday a suicide bomber drove an ambulance packed with explosives into a police training center in the provincial capital of Baqubah, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. At least 13 people were killed and 70 injured in that attack.
Also on Wednesday, a man wearing an explosive vest detonated himself near the convoy of a top provincial official during a gathering of Shiite pilgrims in the district of Khalis, north of Baqubah. The blast killed 2 and injured 15.
The terrorists of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization are Sunni and virulently anti-Shiite. They are targeting the police and the people who train the police, like Mike.
From the story related to the Fox7 TV interview of his parents broadcast recorded Wednesday:
His mom…says he was an over achiever, "I am very honored to be able to show people what my son accomplished in his short time as a United States Calvary Scout. He would always say ‘‘scouts out’ mom’."
Bartley's funeral will be at Orchardville Church. He will be buried next to his grandpa at Maple Hill Cemetery. His tombstone will have a picture of his beagle, Baby Girl, engraved on it. The family is accepting donations at Fairfield National Bank.
At the end of the video she reads a letter from her son’s commander: “Sergeant Bartley displayed the abilities of a rare leader who possesses maturity, intelligence and tactical knowledge. As a squad leader, Sergeant Bartley had the excellent ability to perform under pressure while completing missions with quality results.”
Then she sets down the letter, looks up at the camera: “And that’s what makes me proud.”
Thursday afternoon: Mission confirmed. PGRiders will have a chance to honor this warrior. (Highs expected then to be in the mid-30s with a 20 percent chance of snow.) Mike will come home to southern Illinois next week and his funeral service will then be held in the same church that served Jamie’s funeral a year ago, in Illinois PGR region 9.
Plans announced Sunday evening.
Friday evening: I just returned with many good photos and a few thoughts. Six photos for now.
(more to follow)
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