Editorís note: This story is part of our tribute to Pettis Countians who died while serving in Vietnam. Their names are found on the monument located at the county courthouse.
Bobbie Ditzfeld decided to follow in footsteps of his older brothers and join the service.
John, George and Victor Ditzfeld served in the Korean War, while his brother Harry served stateside in the Air Force.
He also had seven sisters, Bernice, Ruth, Dara, Viola, Carolyn, Norma and his twin, Bonnie. They were the children of John Sr. and Erma Ditzfeld. Though he was the youngest, he gained attention by being a practical joker and quick on his feet.
He saw the Army as a way to provide for his new wife and the child they were expecting. He was a sergeant with the 25th Infantry Division and served as a track commander on an Army personnel carrier.
While on R&R (rest and recuperation) in Hawaii, he went AWOL (absent without leave) to see his mother, wife and daughter. His sisters said he knew he would not be back. Thatís why he risked a court-martial. He visited his daughter a few weeks after she was born. It meant the world to him to be able to hold her in his arms, before he had to return to Vietnam. He was killed a few weeks later.
During the Tet Offensive in 1968, his division was attacked by an army of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. The attack took place in an area known as Ho Bo Woods. Bobbie was seriously injured, but he refused to seek cover. He continued to fire a .50-caliber machine gun on advancing forces. This was his last battle, as he was killed on Jan. 24, 1968, protecting his platoon at the age of 19.
His family is sure he would say that his daughter was the greatest accomplishment in his life. His twin sister, Bonnie Hrdlicka, who lives in Reno, Nev., remains close with his daughter, Faye, who lives in Higginsville. She will receive her licensed practical nursing degree in June.
Hrdlicka thinks of his grandchildren as her own. All three of his granddaughters are going to college. Charlie is studying to be a doctor, Samantha is majoring in criminal justice and Kirsten is undecided. His grandson Tyler is in middle school.
His sisters know he would be very proud of them and all their accomplishments.
He remains greatly missed by all his family and friends.