ROME CITY, IN, USA U.S. Army SPC, COMPANY C, 1ST BN, 26TH INF, 2 BCT, LEDWARD BARRACKS, GERMANY BAGHDAD, IRAQ 05/14/2007
A soldier from northeastern Indiana was killed while serving in Iraq, his family said. Specialist Nick Hartge, 20, was killed at 1:03 a.m. May 14, according to his step-father, Dave Abbott, of Rome City. The family was notified by Army officials late that afternoon.
“It’s terrible,” Abbott said this morning. “It’s your worst fear.”
Abbott said his son was either on patrol or performing a raid when Hartge’s unit met with heavy resistance.
“A heavy battle ensued, and he was killed,” Abbott said.
Hartge served with the 1st Infantry Division and was deployed to Iraq in August. He was stationed in Baghdad.
“He believed in what he was doing,” Abbott said. “He felt they were really helping the people.”
His son enlisted in the Army before graduating from East Noble High School two years ago. He was from Rome City, about 30 miles northwest of Fort Wayne. Hartge had returned home for a two-week leave in March, and Abbott said the family had been in consistent contact with him during his service in Iraq, once every couple of weeks.
Abbott spoke proudly May 15 of how much his son had grown up since enlisting.
“He’d turned into such a man,” Abbott said.
Abbott said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had a profound effect on Hartge, and led to his enlistment.
“It’s all about 9-11,” Abbott said. “It was the driving force behind his decision.
Nicholas S. Hartge’s idea of a great joke was climbing the balcony of his stepparents’ house late at night to bang on their bedroom window as if he was a burglar. His stepfather, Dave Abbott, said he was the kind of kid who’d enter a demolition derby if he could. My gosh, how much energy that kid had, Abbott said. If there was an opportunity to be seized, he’d take it.
He focused much of his attention on cars that had seen better days. He was a skilled mechanic and fixed them into working condition.
Nicholas’ father, Scott Hartge said the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks drove his son to become a soldier. He always wanted to do something special, Hartge said. He was adamant about being in the Army. There was nothing going to stop him.
In high school, Hartge played trumpet in marching band, switching to the bass drum his junior year. He brought small gifts for some of the elementary students who had sent him packages.
He also is survived by his mother, Lori.