Local Special Ops Soldier Killed in Afghanistan
The Special Operations Command announced the death of a local soldier on Saturday. Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Franklin Bitner, 37, was on patrol in the Kandahar Province, Afghanistan when he died from wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device (IED) the Army said.
Bitner was assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C. Bitner is survived by wife April, sons Gunnar and Rogue of Jackson Springs and parents Roger and Beverly Bitner of Greencastle, Pa.
No funeral arrangement information was available, but the Army released the following biographical information:
Bitner was born July 4, 1973, in Hagerstown, Md. and was a 1991 graduate of Greencastle Antrim High School in Greencastle, Pa. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1991 and attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection in 1999. Later that year he graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course as an engineer sergeant.
He joined Company C, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 2003.
He deployed in support of various operations across the globe, including but not limited to: Operation Flintlock, Africa, 2001; Operation Nectar Bend, Africa, 2004; Task Force Falcon in support of operations in Kosovo, 2001 – 2002; Operation Desert Spring, Kuwait, 2002; Operation Iraqi Freedom and four deployments to Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) with Company C.
His military education includes: Track Vehicle Repairers Course, Single Channel Ground Airborne Radio Systems Operator Course, Basic Infantry Course, Basic Airborne Course, Long Range Surveillance Leader’s Course, Warriors Leader Course, Special Forces Engineer Sergeant’s Course, Basic Non-commissioned Officer’s Course, Advanced Non-commissioned Officer’s Course, Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape Course, Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course, Special Forces Sniper Course, Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance Target Analysis and Exploitation Technique’s Course, Special Forces Master Breacher’s Course, Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant’s Course, Military Free-Fall Course, both Summer and Winter Basic Mountain Warfare Courses and the United States Army Special Operations Command Mountaineering Master Trainer’s Course.
Bitner’s military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (6); Purple Heart; Meritorious Service Medal (2); Army Commendation Medal (3) with “V” device; Army Achievement Medal (3); Army Good Conduct Medal (4); Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (3); National Defense Service Medal (2); Kosovo Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three campaign stars; Iraq Campaign Medal with one campaign star; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terror Service Medal; Non-commissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon (3); Army Service Ribbon; NATO Medal (4); Special Forces Tab; Combat Infantryman’s Badge; Parachutists Badge; Military Free-Fall Badge; Bandenkampfabzeichen Badge and Ram’s Head Device.
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