Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Good and Faithful Servant

Arch E. Bartelmay, Jr. October 19, 1919 - September 5, 1987
This is my father in law,
Arch E. Bartelmay, Jr.
Sergeant in the United States Army in WW2.
He fought with the Thunderbirds in the 45th Infantry Division.
This picture was taken when he was home on leave sometime in 1944.
He's standing in his backyard just two doors over from where we live.
My mother in law still lives in the house between the old home place and ours.
We will celebrate her 90th birthday next month.
This photo was taken somewhere in France.
It's actually a postcard.
We don't know who the original writer was.
The addition of his name is my writing.
Sadly, we don't know who he's pictured with
nor whether his friend survived the war.
We honor his memory and his service to our country along with Arch's however,
by keeping this postcard in a frame in our foyer.

My Father in law was in five major landings and one H - Hour.
He fought the bloody Battle of Anzio alongside his Thunderbird compatriots.
Their slogan was "Semper Anticus"
Always Forward.
When General George S. Patton described the 45th Infantry Division,
he said it was
"one of the finest, if not the finest infantry division
in this history of modern warfare."
High praise from a man who was known to be more critical than complimentary.
Here he is pictured with his father, Arch Bartelmay, Sr.
who is holding one of his grandchildren,
Mary Beth,
daughter of Dale,
one of my father in law's many brothers.
He was from a family of eleven.
Eight boys and three girls.
Grandma Bartelmay had five sons fighting in WW2 at the same time.
I cannot even imagine such a thing.
One thing I know,
there must have been a lot of prayer involved.
Each one of those sons of hers came home alive.
Arch was her son who saw the most action.
At one point when he was on a transport ship, well into the war,
the commanding officer on board called for him.
He ordered him to walk back and forth in front of him.
Then he wanted to shake his hand.
He said,
"I just wanted to see you walk and shake the hand of a man
who has survived all you have been through.
You shouldn't be alive at this point.
Is there anything I can do for you?"
My father in law's response,
"No Sir, Not where I'm going..."
And soon he was back in the thick of it.

His war took him through North Africa, France, Italy and Germany,
eventually earning him five battle stars.
The 45th Infantry Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the
US Army's Center of Military History and the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1985.
They liberated the camp at Dachau.
My father in law was home on leave when that took place.

Casualty figures for the 45th Infantry:
Total Battle casualties: 7,791
Total Deaths in Battle: 1,831

Yet my father in law made it home alive.
God had a plan.
Thankfully, he married and had two sons.
I married his second born.
 So like his father in many ways.
Strong, quiet, gentle.
A Survivor.
One survived a war when so many around him fell.
The other survived Pancreatic Cancer when most don't.
With a heart full of thanks, I salute them both.

Arch eventually became the Sheriff of his home county.
Upholding law and order.
Just another form of the freedom fighting he was born to.
He seldom spoke of his wartime experiences,
however when he dozed off in front of the television he was there again,
reliving something from forty years ago.
We would hear him cry out to wounded men in foxholes
as he feverishly tried to help them one more time,
probably in hopes the outcome would finally be different.

His final battle came in the form of lung cancer.
It was short and swift.
Although we were not ready to let him go,
I think the Lord knew this was one soldier who had already
fought enough battles for one lifetime
so he called him home to his final reward and let him rest.
Scott and Gabby at Arch's grave, Memorial Day 2016
"Well done good and faithful servant."
Matthew 25:23

We will never forget his love and service to his family and his country.

12 comments:

  1. awesome tribute to Uncle Arch !!!!

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    1. Thank you! He was an awesome man in so many ways.

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  2. A beautiful and moving tribute to your father in law, Danette. (I'm wiping tears.)

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    1. Oh Thank You! I had a bit of a time getting through it quite honestly.
      He was one fine man.

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  3. Wow! What an amazing story.

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    1. Thank you! I felt like it needed to be told. I want it recorded for my children and their children and so on...
      There is so much of his story we don't know so what we do know needs to be told.

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  4. oh my gosh, this brought tears to my eyes. Sound like an incredible man, truly one of the best. You honour his memory so well.

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    1. Thank you so much Julie.
      It was actually a rather emotional post for me to write. We know so little of his story really but what we do know needs to be told.

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  5. What a lovely tribute to what sounds like a very special man xx

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    1. Thank you Cheryl. He truly was special.

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  6. Absolutely lovely! Truly a fine example of the Greatest Generation just like my FIL who served in the Pacific.

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    1. They really were the greatest generation, weren't they?!
      I salute YOUR Father in Law as well!

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Thank you for taking time to chat with me ~
Your comments make me so Happy!
Have a lovely day.
Danette