Signs return in remembrance of a native son

Charlene Hoeflich

September 22, 2013

MIDDLEPORT — Many years ago, signs in tribute to a native son, General James V. Hartinger, who rose in the ranks of the U. S. Air Force to the Commander in Chief, North American Aerospace Defense Command, were erected at the entrances to Middleport Village.

Over the years, the signs had deteriorated so badly that they could not be repaired. In a discussion at a Middleport Village Council meeting one night, the condition of the signs came up and Councilman Craig Wehrung volunteered to take on the project of replacing them.

Using the originals as a template, he created a similar motif which he sent to Brian Deems of A.G.E. Graphics, Long Bottom, who enhanced the layout and screened it onto two 4x8 foot sheets of white Masonite.

When the printed sheets were ready, Wehrung said he picked them up and began the process of gluing the sheets onto weather resistant plywood. He then fitted aluminum channel around the perimeter of each with silicone caulk to protect the signs from inclement weather.

Once completed, the new signs were installed by village workers at the entrances to the village, one near the Pomeroy/Middleport Corporation line, one just off Ohio 7 at the south end of the village, and the third in a new location near the top of Middleport Hill.

Hartinger’s career in the military began in July 1943 when he graduated from Middleport High School and was drafted into the United States Army. Following World War II he entered the U.S. Air Force Academy and upon graduation in 1949 was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

After completing his pilot training at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas and Williams Air Force Base in Arizona, he was assigned as a jet fighter pilot with the 36th Fighter-Bomber Wing in Germany. His first combat commission was in Korea. His training continued year after year, and when the Vietnam War broke out, he was assigned to a base there. He completed more than 100 aerial combat missions while assigned to the Republic of Vietnam. He was awarded numerous military decorations during his military career.

Over the years, General Hartinger — Jim as his many friends called him — returned periodically to his hometown which responded with appropriate recognition for his many accomplishments. The original tribute signs were erected prior to one of his last visits to Middleport.

The new signs continue the memory of his dedication in the defense of America … lest we forget.