Hartman, Thomas J

Thomas Joseph Hartman was born on August 18, 1948 to Edwin and Ruth Hartman of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Thomas was the youngest of three children. His father served in World War II as a B-24 bomber tail gunner. Edwin Sr. died in a construction accident when Thomas was six. 

Thomas attended Phoenixville Vocational School.  He choose machine shop courses to advance his mechanical talents and interests. Tom purchased a Honda motorcycle, and a 1965 Corvette Stingray which he occasionally raced at Maple Grove Raceway.

Thomas was a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. He worked at the church as a caretaker maintaining the grounds. Thomas played youth baseball, football, and volleyball for the church’s teams at the YMCA.

Thomas was a member of the Key Club, - an international youth service organization sponsored by the Kiwanis. The club sponsors social affairs as well as school and community service projects.

Thomas was a member of the National Honor Society, and in his senior year lettered in football. He performed his vocational co op at John Middleton’s in King of Prussia  fabricating machinery for the plant.

After graduating high school  in 1966, Thomas attended Penn State for a year. 

In September 1968, Thomas was drafted into the Army.  He was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for basic training, and advance infantry training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Thomas was then sent to Fort Benning, Georgia for NCO school (Non Commissioned Officers School) after which he was promoted to Buck Sergeant.

In September, 1969 Thomas was sent to Vietnam, serving with Company C, 2nd Battalion (Mechanized), 8th Infantry Brigade (Panthers), 4th Division. On November 18th near Plei Mrong in the Pleiku Province in the central highlands, his unit came under heavy enemy fire.

Sergeant Thomas Joseph Hartman died in this battle. For his courage, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.  The citation states
  “…Reacting immediately Sergeant Hartman directed his armored personnel carrier to an advantageous fighting position.  He then manned his vehicle’s 50 caliber machine gun and placed a heavy volume of fire on the enemy positions. He continued to fire on the enemy until he was mortally wounded by an enemy B-4O rocket. Sergeant Hartman’s courageous actions, professionalism and exemplary devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.”

Thomas was also awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge posthumously. He previously was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one Bronze service Star, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Expert Badge with machine gun bar, Sharpshooter Badge with rifle bar, and the Marksman Badge with automatic rifle bar.

A Memorial service was held at St Peter’s Episcopal Church on November 26, 1969. Burial was at St. Paul’s Memorial Church Cemetery with full military honors.

Thomas’s mother became a member of the American Gold Star Mothers, and attended many veteran organizations functions. She succeeded Dorothy Detwiler, mother of Hero Larry Detwiler, as President of the local chapter. Thomas’s brother, Edwin served in the Army in Vietnam 1967-1968.

Research by Don Wambold, WCMSC