POLO, IL, US
U.S. Marine Corps
SSGT, 2D BN 6TH MAR, (RCT-2, I MEF FWD), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC
07/16/2010, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
Justus Bartelt was born on the Fourth of July and decided roughly a dozen years later that he would to serve the country whose independence that day celebrates. He planned to join the military — a goal that was, like much of his childhood, shared with his slightly younger cousin David.
“There wasn’t a street in town, a tree we didn’t climb, shoot paintballs from,” David Bartelt said. “There wasn’t a ditch we didn’t jump with our dirt bikes. There wasn’t any stone unturned.”
Justus Bartelt’s mother, Jeannie Kyker, said he’d been “a tyrant to his sisters, as any brother would be.”
“He was a best friend to those who knew him as a friend,” she said. “He was a true and loyal family member and he was a true and loyal marine.”
Bartelt joined the Marines after graduating from Polo Community High School in Polo, Ill., in 2001. When he was deployed in February, he instructed his mother not to worry, she said. The 27-year-old died July 16 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province during his third tour of duty. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune.
Yellow ribbons and American flags lined the streets of Polo on Tuesday. Bartelt, a 2001 graduate of Polo High School, was the son of Polo residents Jeannie Kyker and Steve Bartelt. He is the stepson of Kendall Kyker.
Bartelt joined the Marine Corps in June 2001, and was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant on Jan. 1. He was a platoon sergeant assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, 1st Marine Division Forward, II Marine Expeditionary Force Forward at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from March to October, 2005, and again from August 2008 to March 2009. Bartelt deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in February.
His awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Survivors include his father, Steven, and three sisters, Shayann, Simber and Kellen.