Trending Topics

Pa. renames highway after combat medic who lost both legs

Adam Hartswick was responding to a 2013 explosion in Afghanistan that killed four U.S. service members

By Casey McCracken
Centre Daily Times

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. — Sgt. Adam Hartswick’s dedicated service to the nation will be honored with the renaming of a section of local highway, state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, said Monday in a news release.

Legislation signed by Gov. Tom Corbett last week designates a section of state Route 45 in Centre County as the Sgt. Adam Hartswick Interchange, Conklin said.

The renamed section of Route 45 in Pine Grove Mills will extend from the intersection of state Route 26 to U.S Business Route 322 in Boalsburg.

Hartswick’s mother, Morgen Hummel, expressed her appreciation for the gesture of support and for all of the emotional support she and her family have received from friends, family, the community and even strangers from across the country.

“We’re honored; certainly when you go through what Adam has been through, you know that the least of your worries is to think about recognition,” Hummel said. “For him, he’s very humble; he feels that the recognition should go to his fellow soldiers.”

Hartswick, a 2009 graduate of State College Area High School, lost both of his legs May 14, 2013, while deployed in Afghanistan.

“Very few times do we get to honor a hero,” Conklin said. “I am humbled by this opportunity to show Sgt. Hartswick and his family how much we appreciate his service.”

Hartswick has trouble accepting the “hero” label.

“He resists being called a hero a lot, but recently someone told him that the soldiers who died are now hero angels in a way,” Hummel said. “It was a nice reminder that it’s OK for Adam to carry the credit, too.”

Hartswick was a medic responding to an explosion that killed four U.S. service members and was critically injured after stepping on an improvised explosive device.

He lost both legs above the knees, both index fingers and part of one thumb while aiding wounded soldiers from an ambushed U.S. platoon.

Despite his injuries, Hartswick was able to instruct a soldier on how to apply tourniquets to his legs, saving his own life.

Hartswick will revisit the site of the explosion this month as a part of Operation Proper Exit, a program that allows soldiers to return to war zones in an effort to help the soldiers heal emotionally and mentally.

“Sgt. Hartswick’s Centre County roots include his service as a volunteer with Centre LifeLink EMS. In 2009, he preserved a long-standing family tradition by enlisting in the U.S. Army,” Conklin said. “As a trained combat medic, the lives of others come first. In doing so, he also saved his own. This is a testament to what this young man is made of.”

While recovering in the hospital, Hartswick was promoted to sergeant by a three-star general.

At the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., he learned to walk again on prosthetic limbs and now has a pair of computerized Ottobock X3 legs.

Hartswick is healing well as an outpatient at Walter Reed and is still an active-duty soldier living on the base in Bethesda, Hummel said.

The Department of Transportation will place a sign identifying the section of the road, Conklin said.

“This is the smallest token of appreciation, but a large reminder for every passer-by of what a true hero is,” Conklin said.

For Hartswick, this particular stretch of road has a special meaning.

“The interchange is a combination of State College and Pine Grove, the two towns he grew up in, so it does have a certain connection for Adam,” Hummel said.


©2014 the Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.)