Sgt. Adam Hartswick has become a household name around Centre County.
And today, state Rep. Scott Conklin said he will officially introduce legislation to rename a stretch of road in and near Pine Grove Mills, Hartswick’s hometown, to honor the wounded soldier.
Conklin said the legislation would rename a portion of state Route 45 from the intersection of state Route 26 to U.S Route 322 in Boalsburg. If the bill becomes state law, the state Department of Transportation will place a sign identifying the road segment’s new name.
“Sgt. Hartswick is a hero,” Conklin said.
“It’s always an honor to be recognized by my hometown,” Hartswick said.
“I’m a little speechless. I don’t know what else to say,” he said. “There is still a war going on, and I feel that there are so many other people who could be called heroes.”
Hartswick began a service career as a volunteer with Centre LifeLink EMS and then enlisted in the Army after he graduated from State College Area High School in 2009.
Earlier this year, while stationed in Afghanistan as a combat medic, Hartswick lost both of his legs and was severely injured after stepping on an IED while aiding a wounded soldier. Four others died during the mission.
“Hartswick’s commitment to his community and country runs deep, and the courage he displayed protecting his comrades and fellow citizens is beyond description,” Conklin said. “Renaming this Route 45 interchange is a small token of appreciation.”
Morgen Hummel, Hartswick’s mother, appreciates the tribute.
“As his mother, I say and strongly believe he is a hero and deserves all the accolades he can get,” she said.
About two months ago, Hummel said, Conklin’s office contacted Hartswick about naming the stretch of road in his honor.
“I know he’s humbled and honored,” Hummel said. “I also know, though, that if he could share the names of his fallen comrades on that road, he would.”
Hartswick called it ironic that the stretch of road is being named for him. He said his parents were divorced when he was growing up, but as a “joint-custody kid” he split time between his father’s house in the College Heights neighborhood of State College and his mother’s home in Pine Grove Mills.
“Oh yeah, I’m very familiar with the road,” Hartswick said with a laugh. “I’d drive that to get to and from mom and dad’s.”
Hartswick is a patient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. On the weekends, he comes back to the Centre Region to see family and friends.
Last week, Hartswick said he was cleared to walk on modified prosthetic legs.
“I’m picking it up pretty fast actually,” Hartswick said. “Even though I haven’t walked in months, it’s still a little bit like second nature. You just have to maneuver your body a little differently.”
He is not sure how long it will take to walk to his full capacity, but said he’s taking it day-by-day with a good attitude.
“You have to be positive at all times,” he said.
Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648.