Greencastle memorial service planned for soldier killed in action

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
This photo of Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Bitner was included with the obituary for the Army soldier who grew up in Greencastle and was killed in action April 23 in Afghanistan. A local memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, May 28, at the Special Events Center.

Memorial Day weekend will have an extra special meaning for local residents as a memorial service is planned Saturday, May 28  for Master Sgt. Benjamin Franklin Bitner, who was killed in action April 23 in Afghanistan.

The Greencastle-Antrim community will have the chance to pay tribute to Bitner, 37, of Jackson Spring, N.C., who grew up in Greencastle, during the 2 p.m. service at the Special Events Center, 407 S. Washington St., Greencastle.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines, N.C.

Bitner, who was posthumously promoted from sergeant first class to master sergeant, was serving with 3d Special Forces Group (Airborne) as the ODA 3236 Team Sergeant when he was killed in Kandahar province during an improvised explosive attack, according to a news release from the United States Department of Defense.

Stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., Bitner had been deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom since March 2011, according to the obituary. It was his 10th operational deployment.

Bitner and his wife, April, have children, Gunnar and Rogue. Bitner is survived locally by his parents, Roger and Beverly Bitner of Greencastle. He was a Greencastle-Antrim High School graduate with the Class of 1991. He has a grandma and brother, Brian, and his family.

“Ben was a loving husband, who dedicated his life to the Army, his family and his friends,” said April Bitner in a statement released through the Public Affairs Office at Fort Bragg.

“His death has hit us extremely hard and comes as quite a shock.”

Bitner had extensive training in the military and was a much decorated solider that included the Purple Heart and six Bronze Stars.

“The family appreciates condolences offered by friends, loved ones and the local community, and we would appreciate some time to be with family right now in order to mourn the loss of our solider, husband, father and son.”

His obituary noted its leadership abilities and that he was an avid outdoorsman who liked climbing, hunting, camping and mountain biking.

Donations in Bitner’s memory can be made to the Montagnards at Treasure Chapter 57 SFA 5209 Mockingbird Rd. Greensboro, NC 27406 Attn: Sam Todaro. Make checks payable to Treasurer Chapter 57 SFA. Have donations marked Montagnards. For information on the Montagnards go to montagnards.org

On line condolences can be made to www.bolesfuneralhome.com