318th Soldier Honored at Warriors Walk

It is a story of service and sacrifice. Staff Sgt. John Hartman, Jr., helped build a new nation in Iraq while defending ours at home. On Thursday, he became the 318th soldier honored at Warriors Walk.

Sgt. Hartman offered to do a third tour of duty in Iraq so another soldier could spend time with his newborn son. After taking his place, Hartman received his own place at Warriors Walk.

On a cold, wet Thursday morning, soldiers gathered at Fort Stewart to remember one of their own.

"I'm humbled to speak of a great person, a great soldier and a great leader," Maj. Gen. Richard Lynch, commander of the Third Infantry Division, told the crowd.

Gen. Lynch said being at Warriors Walk to honor one of his fallen soldiers was the most important thing he could do today.

"To be here with his family and talk to his family about the sacrifice that he's made and the sacrifice that they're making and making sure that they know that John will never be forgotten and that he's always in our thoughts and prayers and that the family will always be taken care of is the most important thing I could have done today," he said.

It's a tribute the Third ID makes, whether they are recognizing dozens of soldiers, or like today, only one. Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Bailey called it an honor to stand by Hartman's Eastern Redbud tree, now the 318th to be planted here.

"I know several people whose names are on these stones," said Sgt. Bailey, "so it was actually a privilege and an honor to be here for his place."

"It's exactly what we ought to be doing," explained Gen. Lynch. "No one visits Fort Stewart or will visit Fort Stewart, while I'm in command, who doesn't come to Warriors Walk."

He added that no one who visits will forget the price men and women like Sgt. Hartman have paid.

"I'm always thinking about their sacrifices. I'm always thinking about the individual and the individual's family," he said. "I'm always thinking about the impact that they've had on the global war on terrorism and it stiffens our resolve to continue to do what we're doing, fighting this global war on terrorism and to ensure we have the same freedoms today that our predecessors enjoyed."

Staff Sgt. John Hartman was with the First Battalion, 9th Field Artillery. He spent 16 years serving his country in the military. He was 39 years old.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com