Remembering the Life and Memory of...
Pfc. David J. Bentz III
August 12, 2008DJ, I want to thank you for all that you have done... you have given a sacrifice that only few have ever known. You are the sole reason I am re enlisting, for you risked your life to defend mine and I shall return that to you. I served several years during this war and vowed never to return but it hits hard when one of your friends are taken so soon, I cant help but feel that it is my duty to give all that I have in your honor. Thank you again for all that you were and all that you are. You mean more to this country and to me then you will ever know. God Bless you DJ and I know you now rest in peace as you watch over those who still fight today. Thanks bud, I love ya.
~ Friend and Fellow Soldier of DJ,Clayton|Contact Me
Hometown: Newfield, New Jersey, U.S.
Age: 20 years old
Died: June 20, 2007 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit: Army, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.
Birth: Aug. 1, 1986
New Jersey, USA
Death: Jun. 20, 2007
Army Pfc. David J. Bentz III, 20, of Newfield, N.J.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died June 20 in Baghdad of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed were Maj. Sid W. Brookshire, Staff Sgt. Darren P. Hubbell and Spc. Joe G. Charfauros Jr.
Army Pfc. David J. Bentz III was remembered by friends and family as a courteous, sweet man who knew how to put his dedication where it counted.
"He wasn't rambunctious," said Daniel Antonelli, his assistant principal and soccer coach. "He was on the quiet side. But out there on the field, he was tenacious. He'd get all over the place.
"I know he would have fought for his country the same way."
Bentz III, 20, of Newfield, N.J., was killed June 20 in Baghdad when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb. He was a 2004 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Stewart, Ga.
Bentz loved to play poker and dreamed of becoming a professional card player when he got out of the Army. He delivered pizzas before enlisting.
Bentz studied law enforcement while in high school, and grew up very much the protector of his two younger sisters, Gabrielle Bentz and Brianna Butterworth.
"He was like a big daddy," said Kimberly Geonnotti, his stepmother.
He also is survived by his father, David Bentz Jr., his birth mother, Lena Butterworth, and Bernadette Bentz, known as his third mother.
The Life of David Bentz. My brave soldier son, PFC David J. Bentz, III (lovingly DJ) was full of life, funny, charismatic and a self-less engaging young man. He loved to play soccer, cards, and fishing, especially with his father, pool, and just about any game worth gambling (LOL). His smile and laughter was contagious. He had the bluest blue eyes that shined and the bushiest eyebrows. LOL..when he was little I would tell him "DJ do the eyes" and he could make his eyebrows go up and down - sideways it was hysterical. His last leave before deployment his best friend Steve and I gave him a good luck party and of course I said DJ "do the eyes" and he did..we were all cracking up like he was too. God I miss him...How he did it I don't know...but I noticed when he was little that his expressions on his face would show through his eyes and brows. One of his closest Soldier buddies Matt said "He wouldn't come into a room without letting everyone know that he was there. Always making everyone laugh and smile, he was the heart of the platoon on many occasions". DJ always surrounded himself with his many friends that he cherished and with his witty humor we had many great times at our home. His first dear friend Daniel when he was young was always around and vice versa. They took many trips to together when he was young as Daniel's mom was from the country near Harrisburg, PA. A few years later Daniel had moved, but they remained in touch as could be. DJ was always keeping in touch with someone. His best friend as he got older and in high school was Steve, with Mikey close second...lol (always the joke). Between the three of them trouble was to be had. Our "Pink House" was the meeting place. I have always felt I rather my children's friends here at home so I could tell what was going on instead of them somewhere else. The basement pool table was their haven and there were times maybe 15-20 kids on Saturday night. He had sooooooo many friends but he cherished his close few that meant the world to him. His cousin Elizabeth who is only a year older was extremely close to him and was always at my house right with them boys...lol.. My son was also lucky to be in love with his high school sweetheart, Ferg...but because just too young and going away they decided to wait til he came home to move in together. Ferg is a constant comfort to me now as all his friends and family. To say I miss him is an understatement....we all do...DJ was the one person you always wanted around! All of me went with him that day, our future was cut to short. He graduated from Clayton High School Class of '04 and he joined the military two years after high school graduation. He wanted his family and friends that he so loved to be proud of what he had accomplished through his life. He loved being in the service and was proud to wear his uniform full of pride while serving for his Country.
My son, DJ, was given to me as a gift at the age of three. Soon after this his father and I married lovingly raising our children, DJ and Gabrielle Bentz. While our marriage didn't last we always held the highest regard in the betterment for our children. I continued to raise my children as a single mother in Clayton, NJ with their father being constantly in their life . DJ was always a small child, thin in stature but at 16 he grew like a weed. I still remember standing outside Twin Kiss Ice Cream stand (he was maybe no more than 4) and he tugged me at my leg...(it was August) and said "Mommy, I want to play soccer". And play soccer he did. Our lives were consumed with his love of the game and his tremendous talent. I loved watching him play. He would always tuck his arms in and then when they shot was great or winning they would fly up in the air. He always did that - always physically showing excitement. After a few years of playing locally he was scouted to play for traveling team and he made it. Before uniforms were ordered the Coach's wife Carol came to and said that she had asked the boys what numbers they wanted and she wanted me to know that DJ said number 11. Carol said she asked him why number 11 as most of them would want the numbers of family soccer players or famous and she was curious. She said that DJ said "that is the day my mom became my real mom". I cried as I still do and now as I write this. A few years before after his father and I divorced, the judge had asked him who he wanted to live with and he said me...that was on May 11. The high school my son graduated from retired his soccer number 11 at his service. We have set up a Memorial Scholarship fund for my son for soccer players going to college. DJ had a drive and stamina that whatever he was doing he was going to do it right and have fun with it. One persona with my son was that he was not very competitive...he loved to just have fun and good times. If they lost a game, he would get upset at first, but real quick he would mention the cool shot this kid did or what he had done wrong. Always ready to play the next game. "he would say with this priceless look "Oh Dude, I messed up...let's do it again" LOL Always looking at the good in everything. Whether at sports, school, family. Okay...I am lying...he just didn't apply it all to schoolwork...LOL...he loved school but hated schoolwork. I can still see him with his cowlick sticking up and his hand on his face attempting to the work. He could do it...but boy did he hate that it took time from his social life. DJ's sister is four years younger than him and it was your classic love hate relationship...lol...but push come to shove anyone else mess with her - they would be hurting. LOL... As they got older their relationship was very strong and hung out together. She has taken this very hard, but since a lot of their friends are shared and she goes to the same high school - it helps her as best to be expected. DJ also has a sister, Brianna, from his birth mother, Lena . They reconnected when he was out of high school. He enjoyed spending time with his sister and Lena too. There are many memories that I will fail to mention but they are all in my heart as with all our family. But the most important one is my son's love of playing cards. Any cards, any time- he will kick your butt. From when he learned from his grandparents (my parents) pinnacle and solitaire. Our family is card playing , laughing and better be money on the table to win.LOL...DJ grew to love Texas Hold em...and played it with a vengenous. After the service he wanted to compete professionally with cards. And I know he would have. Like he told me I will get a job- something like a cop and start out at AC, MOM and then move on to the big league...he knew he needed a sponsor, but DJ would play for up to 8 hours at a time he loved the game. In his journal from fourth grade all he would practically write was everyday I played cards and soccer...and fish"His teacher said doesn't he do anything else?" LOL And boy- did he fish too. While DJ and I were busy with everything else him and his dad's joy was fishing and they did all the time. His best friends Daniel , Steve loved to fish too...but Steve loved it as much as DJ and they would do fishing marathons at our local lake. DJ's dad would take him out on the boat all year round. His father would go anywhere for ocean fishing. I still remember DJ going fishing with Steve, Mikey,Eric at Cu cinotta's lake near our home and DJ yelling down the street, "Mommadukes, mommadukes screaming it real loud- I caught big bubba, here is dj at 14 with his bass in his hands huge and almost as big as him and sitting on the hood of the car - I caught bubba, I caught bubba, and so excited and telling the whole story and that mom- get abucket big enough call dad- speaking a mile a minute with all friends chining too. We used a cooler we found and he took it right over to his dads...his father had it stuffed and we still have big bubba!" For weeks all he talked about was big bubba! And shoot pool...we always had a table in our home. Hell he would tell me "put some English on it mom!" He loved shooting pool so much he played all the time his buddies in Ft. Stewart told me you could always find him at the pool hall. I wanted to emphasize to you the importance of my son's dedication to the army and the Iraq Freedom War. My son believed in his mission and when giving the opportunity to come home he declined and told me that he was here to finish his mission with his soldier buddies. I was the last person to speak to my son by internet six days before he went to Heaven. While talking to me he explained how he had saved his "buddies life the other day" and I was so worried and scared. I asked him about it and he just took as another "day" on the job. I couldn't believe it. After my son's passing his only and last written letters home to his sister Elle and I were received the day after he died. I will cherish this lifeline from him forever. Even in the letter he wrote about the incident but he wrote about it as "in passing". His letter was more about what he believed in and what the American Soldiers were doing there was for the betterment of Freedom. When I showed the Army Casualty Officer this and talked to the LT. The LT. said they were aware most definitely and come to find out that my courageous Soldier Son saved someone's life by being in the direct line of fire so that soldiers could get help. God this is hard....give me strength..he earned the Medal of Valor for this heroic action It is from this letter to me that I want to share with you what he wrote:
Mommadukes (he called me that)
"Other than that the moral here is half and half, don't freak out but three of our guys got shot by snipers while we were out on patrol....they all lived but to let you know I won't lie everyday my life is being threatened, but I am trained and I saved my buddies life the other day. So just pray and have faith, but since shit is bad and for real that I do have to tell if something does happen it is how I wanted to go out fighting for a cause of freedom of America and for the Iraqi people. Don't be sad, be happy I wouldn't want it any other way. We have no showers nor running water or hot meals so it's ruff. But when ya go on patrol and you see the little Iraq kids waving and jumping up and down and giving a thumb's up it makes it feel worth it and it makes me feel good ya know."
He believed in his mission and we believe in him!
Within two weeks of DJ's deployment his father, David J. Bentz, Jr, was seriously ill and on life support. The Red Cross was contacted but even though we tried DJ was not given permission to come home and see his father. DJ's father did recover but with complications and when I spoke to him on the phone from Iraq just a week before DJ passed away to Heaven...I asked if he wanted to come home for hardship case and he adamantly said no. He said he had been given a leave in August for two weeks and he was going to see his father then. While he was extremely worried and loved his dad, he said he came to do a mission and he was going to finish it and not leave his buddies- no matter how hard it was. My brave son was scared but he faced this with determination that only a spirited strong man could know. He would tell me over and over again, please pray for me it is bad...and I did and I still do for all the troops. But I want you to know that my son gave his life...the ultimate sacrifice for what he believed in, Family, Friends and America...the right to Freedom! And I wanted your office to know that he was more than just a death rate number, he was my son, brother, cousin, friend, comrade to all Americans!
My son was laid to rest in a small town in Clayton, NJ that gave him a true Hero's service and full community support. It was beautiful and overwhelming but I hope to never see it again. DJ is at peace now where he was raised with his family and friends that he cherished. Also our family was burdened too that DJ's grandfather, Charles A. Atkinson, (my father) just couldn't handle the news of his passing and within days of DJ's service we laid my father next to him. My father was extremely close to DJ and so very proud of him. My father had served in Korea and was given the Bronze Star, like DJ...and they both were stationed out of Fort Stewart. DJ was the first soldier in our family to serve in the Army. All our immediate family members previously and currently have served in the Navy. They would watch Fox and the Hound all the time...literally that was their movie and when DJ came home on leave he had bought Pop-pop the remaster "Fox and the Hound" cd. In my father's casket we laid DJ's gift. The Fox and the Hound together again. This has been an exceptionally hard time in our family and may God Bless all our Troops! I would have written this but I have been accused to many times that my handwriting is not legible...even DJ told me type the letters! I would never dreamed I would be doing this...so I am just writing from my heart. He is so loved and as his mother, this was not right...He should have been given his life and let me go, but I know that God has his reasons and one day I will find out...until then I just keep on loving him and talking to him. I live everyday to be closer to him. He was my rock and I miss him! Our family again has been dealt with another loss. DJ's and Elle's dad, Dave has his peace as he with our son now in heaven..............Dave battled his cancer with all his might.......but God peacefully took him home on July 5th, 2008... Needless to say all his family and friends are grieving immensely, In our family's heart,...Dave and DJ are fishing the great blue...........