BEDFORD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — This weekend a statue was unveiled in honor of a local Vietnam War veteran. Sergeant Robert Hartsock sacrificed his life for those who fought by his side in Vietnam.
Hartsock was the only dog handler in any war to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
To his family, he was the fun uncle, brother, and son who everyone loved to be around. Hartsock was born and raised in Hewitt, PA, and went to school in Everett.
Hartsock’s sister, Rita Kline says “he was a big baseball player and he loved it and he was just a farm boy.” His niece, Sherry Trail says, “I remember the day he left for Vietnam it was Mother’s Day, May 10th.” She also remembers the day their family found out that he had died.
While in Vietnam, Hartsock used his body to smother dynamite in order to protect those around him. Kline adds “I’m sure he didn’t think of himself of a hero. He just did what came naturally.”
When Bedford County had to choose someone to display, they say Hartsock’s name came naturally. President of Bedford County Visitors Bureau, Dennis Tice says “The mission of the statue was actually to focus the attention onto the back of the Vietnam monument here. The stone, everybody would walk past the front but nobody ever came around the back to look at the names of those who were killed during Vietnam.”
The visitor’s bureau completed the statue with a local ‘touch.’
“Any veteran in our area who served during the Vietnam war, we asked them to come in and place a thumbprint,” says Tice. It was the final flourish of a masterpiece.
Kline adds “It was amazing. It is really an honor to have it and it is so beautiful. The statue, it was a feeling that he will always be there now… He’s back home.”
Hartsock’s statue stands in Bedfords Veterans Grove, looking down at the Bedford County men and women who also answered the call. The statue can be found directly across from the Bedford County Courthouse on Juliana Street.