September 13, 2004
Amputee receives Bronze Star, re-enlists in Army
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A reservist who lost his right arm in a roadside bombing in Iraq re-enlisted in the Army on the same day he received a Bronze Star for his service.
Sgt. Chuck Bartles, 26, did both Thursday during a ceremony at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum.
“I’m not bitter at all,” he said. “I’ve been in the military my whole adult life, and I really enjoy it.”
Bartles was injured when a roadside bomb rocked his vehicle, spraying shrapnel everywhere. One soldier died and two others were injured. Bartles’ right arm was shattered and had to be removed above the elbow.
Amputees are usually medically discharged from the Army with no questions asked, said Lt. Col. James Suriano, commander of the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion, the Belton, Mo.-based unit to which Bartles belongs.
Civil affairs soldiers are helping to rebuild infrastructure and governments in Iraq.
Instead, Bartles twice appealed to a medical board at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Satisfied that he could perform his duties, they agreed to let him re-enlist.
Bartles has been in the military reserves for eight years. He began in the Marine Corps, but decided to switch to the Army three years ago so he could pursue language studies.
He started a Russian language course at Fort Bragg in June, eight months after his injury and about two years after he joined the Army reserves. Bartles is studying Russian and Eastern European studies at the University of Kansas at Lawrence and is scheduled to graduate in December.
The South Dakota native plans to attend law school next, although he knows another deployment is likely.
“I don’t know how soon it will come, maybe next year,” he said. “I’ll have time to graduate in December, but probably not enough time to finish law school.”
He hoisted his prosthetic right arm into position with his left hand as Suriano administered the oath during his re-enlistment ceremony.
Suriano said Bartles’ positive attitude keeps him going. The commander visited Bartles in his hospital bed in Iraq the day after his amputation.
“He was already talking about learning how to shoot left-handed because he didn’t want to miss the deer season,” Suriano said.
bravo!!!!!!!!!!! BRAVO!!!!!!!!! A TRUE PATRIOT!! GOOD MAN!
This is a patriot