Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Nicholas S. Hartge dies 'of wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using grenades and an improvised explosive device'

ROME CITY - A soldier from northeastern Indiana was killed while serving in Iraq, his family said.

Pfc. Nick Hartge, 20, was killed at 1:03 a.m. Monday, according to his father, Dave Abbott, of Rome City. The family was notified by Army officials late Monday afternoon.

"It's terrible," Abbott said this morning. "It's your worst fear."

Abbott said his son was either on patrol or performing a raid when Hartge's unit met with heavy resistance.

"A heavy battle ensued, and he was killed," Abbott said.

Hartge served with the 1st Infantry Division and was deployed to Iraq in August. He was stationed in Baghdad.

"He believed in what he was doing," Abbott said. "He felt they were really helping the people."

His son enlisted in the Army before graduating from East Noble High School two years ago. He was from Rome City, about 30 miles northwest of Fort Wayne.

Hartge had returned home for a two-week leave in March, and Abbott said the family had been in consistent contact with him during his service in Iraq, once every couple of weeks.

Abbott spoke proudly Tuesday of how much his son had grown up since enlisting.

"He'd turned into such a man," Abbott said.

Abbott said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had a profound effect on Hartge, and led to his enlistment.

"It's all about 9-11," Abbott said. "It was the driving force behind his decision.

"He always wanted to do something special. He was adamant about being in the Army. There was nothing going to stop him."

From the Journal and Courier