S/SGT David Bitle
From the "Pack" to Dave: "Have a cold beer waiting for us brother".
At 1400 Hrs S/Sgt David L. Bitle
was laid to rest at the National Memorial Cemetery, Punchbowl, with full
military honors in a service conducted by Monsignor Col. Ron Peters USA Ret.
In attendance were friends including, government officials and SgtMaj Haleamau
with a group of Special Forces. David's flag was received and turned back
to Punchbowl to fly on all special occasions. It was a service that
everyone in the 281st can be very proud of.
(double click the images to view)
20 October 2000
On the 25th of October, the ashes of Staff Sergeant David L. Bitle will be placed to rest at the Punch Bowl in the great state of Hawaii. His service will be with full military honors. His Flag will remain at the Punch Bowl, and along with many other flags, will be flown on every Veteran's Day for as long as his flag lasts, and then will be disposed of in the proper manner.
Flower arrangements will represent the 145th Aviation Platoon, the 281st Assault Helicopter Company, and the Wolf Pack. The service is to take place at 1400 hours, Hawaii time......
I hope that we did it right for Davoo...........
At that time, on that day, I'll be out somewhere, alone, seeing him as I remember him as the soldier he was, sitting in the back of a gunship, holding a M_60 machine gun, and looking for bad guys..........
Barc Boyd another "Old" Wolf Pack 36
Dave passed on at
about 0700 hours, Hawaii time on the 27th. I feel very fortunate to have spent a
week with him this past June, and am probably the last Intruder to see him
alive. I won't go into great detail about his condition, but if you can picture
a MAN in his 50's, who looks like a man in his late 90's, and in terrible
health, you get the picture. Even though he could barely walk and carry his
oxygen at the same time, we spent all day, every day, driving around the island,
I feel very
fortunate to have seen him again after all the years, and I forget who said it
this morning, but thanks to the net, he and I were able to meet one last time
and laugh at the world as we once did together in a far away place .
And! He is now
somewhere where the air is clean and clear, and probably drinking beer and
laughing with all the other guys that didn't make it home.
Barc Boyd ........... "just another "OLD WOLF PACK 36"
David and I became acquainted after his return from the Nam. We met as neighbors in 1973 in a small town in Hawaii named Kaaawa. He was a candle maker and a damned fine one too. His work was more like art, and he is fondly remembered by many as "The Candleman." I recall many mornings just sitting out in our backyard drinking Coffee and reminiscing. He spoke of All of you often with much affection.
On one of our camping trips up to the mountains, he had set-up our camp (with a perimeter I might add) and we talked for hours about his Nam experiences and guys, I gotta tell ya, that he really loved All of his "comrades in arms." Hell, it was raining cats and dogs, and we would still be there if it hadn’t been for the fact that we ran out of Coffee and tobacco. On our way out of the valley a pheasant flew up out of the brush and he pulled his 45 out and shot that bird "on the wing." There wasn’t much left of that bird but still it was a great Shot!
David was more than just a good friend to me. I had a severe drinking problem while going through a terrible break up and that man took me aside and helped me to get into a program and sobered me up! Not only did he guide me in showing me the right path he took me into his home and made sure that I followed through on it. That is the kind of guy David was!
I hope that you all take a few moments to remember David on October 25th, 2000 at 1400 Hawaii Standard Time when his funeral service is being held @ Punchbowl Cemetery of the Pacific. Many of our friends will be in attendance and My Daughter is going to represent my family.
A special Thanks from All of us who knew David, to Barclay, Fred and Jerry, for making the arrangements for Full Military Honors, and the Great State of Hawaii for taking care of the Cremation expenses.
Aloha Dave. Catch ya on the flip side!
Your friend and Comrade,
Again, I did not
know Dave personally but he was one of us and that is enough to make it hurt a
little. He has friends waiting for
him on the other side I do believe.
Take care soldier
fly high with honor.
I was saddened to
hear of David Bitle's passing. I
have never met him but he was one of us.
Dave was one of the first to join the net when it was formed last year.
He and I have had conversations Back Channel and by Land Line over the
past few months. I have asked Jack
Mayhew and Barc Boyd to take care of a remembrance from the 281st AHC Assn.
Dave was fortunate to have a friend like Barclay Boyd.
We are all
diminished by the loss of one of our extended family. There are few enough of us
and we have been apart for far too long. Yet I believe that this amazing thing
called "the net" is truly one of the greatest creations in history. As middle
aged people we have been given an unprecedented opportunity to regain contact
with our comrades. let us redouble the efforts to find the rest of the
Intruders. That way we can experience each other as adults tempered by the
unique lives we have led. We all have renewed pride in who and what we were.
Don't blow off the next generation. Get involved.
You don't need to be a parent to participate in Scouting, or campfire
girls or your local school. Don't talk about it, do it.
David is gone.
David in Hebrew means "Beloved". The Intruders have lost one Beloved Member. We
I am saddened by
Dave Bitle's passing. More than I
thought I'd be. He was my platoon
leader with the pack in 1967-68. I
can only think of him in terms of the young man he was, and the pictures that
are burned into my memory. He will
always be that person I see in my slide pictures, raising a can of Budweiser in
celebration upon returning from that mission where Dan DeGenova and Green were
plucked from a sandbar in the river when their chopper was shot down.
It is a happy memory.
Dave was one of the
original "Mardi Gras" shotgun members that came over from the 25th Division as a
door gunner volunteer from Hawaii in 1965. He ended up staying 3 years and
working his way up to platoon Sgt. and maintenance qualified. Dave was in on all
the early trials and tribulations of a unit in the discovery phase of Delta
which included free guns on a bungee cord, McGuire rig extraction's and B-Model
running gunship takeoffs.
The point being, it
is better to exchange any and all differences "back channel" between ourselves
and not putting our membership in embarrassing situations. We lost a lot from
I will miss David
and his fellowship and I hope he was not alone. I do know that God was by his
side all the way.
I always wanted to
say thanks for the things you did for the service platoon and never seemed to
find the time, or it didn't seem appropriate, or assumed you already knew, or
I'd tell you at the next reunion.
Hell, I was even in Hawaii and could have told you face to face but for some
reason or other didn't.
Had no idea how
time and tides had changed for you nor did I realize how fragile your health had
become. Why should I? My mind still
held the images of the strapping Hawaiian who managed to pack my fumbling butt
out of a rice paddy along with an M60 and threw me into a waiting Huey while
Charlie tried his damndest to provide us with a one way ticket to where you are
now. Even though you bruised my ribs when you threw me into the aircraft and
battered my ego in the bar that night, you made sure that I made it to home base
in one piece. It's a day late and a dollar short, but to you my comrade in arms,
I salute you.
One of your
brothers has been welcomed home with honors....I stand tall for him and my
silent pray is for this man.....A FINAL "WELCOME HOME DAVID"
To Wolf Pack 36 Yankee,
Dave, I’m truly sorry that you didn’t have the chance, and sadly, the time to get together with your 281st comrades and especially all your old friends from the Wolf Pack. We’re going to miss you old friend.
I am happy though that you were able to participate in the founding of the 281st association. I thought it was great how you pitched right in during the early stages of the associations Internet email chat site. Your comments and especially the offers of a "cold beer" to those who you thought deserved a cool one really contributed some color to the reading. You were family and as one of the more senior "Uncles" your praise was appreciated and your criticism deserved.
I will always cherish the memories of our time together in that land and time far away. I won’t bring up all the old stories, hell, you were there! I’ll just hang on to the memory of a proud and fierce warrior, a leader, a man loyal to his friends and unit, a soldier.
Good bye old friend. It won’t be long before we’re all with you. So keep the beer cold for that time soon, when the Wolf Pack is together again.
Col. John W. (Jack) Mayhew USA, Ret.
David, from the time that I joined the 281st Assault Helicopter Company in 1967 until I departed in 1968 you were the Platoon Sergeant of the Gun Ship Platoon with the call sign of Wolf pack 36 Yankee. You were one of the first to join the 281st and you served in the unit longer than any other individual. You where there when most of the aerial weapons systems were home made or borrowed and you were there when they become sophisticated. In both cases you made it all work and thanks to your efforts, your beloved Wolf pack was truly better than the best. You were the one with the experience, knowledge, and drive that made it all happen. David, you took the young pilots, and many of us older ones, under your wing and kept us safe. You were always there when we needed you and when we were in harms way, you and your crews were there to see us home safely. Some of my most vivid memories are of you teaching young pilots how to prepare rockets and ammunition for the next days missions, seeing you helping a crew chief with a maintenance problem, long after everyone else had settled down for the night or watching you climb out of a gun ship after flying all day as a gunner, knowing that your day was just starting. With you in charge there was never a question of availability, the Wolf pack led the way to the fight and was always there when we needed you. No job was to big or too small for you and you did them all in a way that earned you the respect of everyone who served with you. David, we took you for granted and we never told you how much you meant to us and for that we are sorry. The only thing that I can say to you now is that many of us, owe you our lives.
Sergeant David L. Bitle, Wolfpack 36 Yankee, on behalf of the members of the 281st Flight and especially those who have gone on before us, I salute you for your outstanding service to our country and to the organization that you loved and cherished. You will live on in our hearts and we will honor your memory forever. Each day we will give thanks for having know you, for you are truly above the best.
God Speed old friend.
It's moments like these that take me back to forgotten times
and faces. To memories of the best friends I'll ever have. To the best men I've
Gone but never forgotten.
To my fellow Intruders, and your families,
God bless you all.
May I say that although I did not know Dave Bitle well, apart
from his diligent role as leader and sergeant in Viet Nam,
we did swap a few emails over the past two years. One thing that stood out in
the email from Dave was that he had an eye for detail and was particular about
his choice of ground to defend. He knew how to pick his
battles, and the right weapons to use
The following photo's were sent from Hawaii by Jerry Stanfield. He visited Dave at the Punchbowl National Cemetery on Oahu.
Following is an email to Jack Mayhew, Chairman of the Remembrance Committee, from Jerry.
To: John Mayhew <firstname.lastname@example.org>
David is covered for tomorrow. The Boy Scouts put an American Flag and a flower Lei on every grave in the main section of the cemetery. Friends and family take care of those in the columbarium where David is resting. It’s quite a site. I'm enclosing some shots of David's place as well as some general shots. Tonight at 1900 just after taps, a lone helicopter will circle over Punchbowl with its spotlight turned on. It will then kill its lights and rotor off towards Diamond Head.
Jerry Stanfield, 632 Mardigras