Our Patriot’s Journey


. . . A memorial to Sgt. Robert Bittiker

This web site honors the memory and incredible journey of our son, Robert Bittiker ... a journey which we ourselves began in search of peace, after he was abruptly taken from us for reasons known only to God.  We could not have anticipated that our journey would evolve into a journey of strangers who would become forever connected to us and to Robert. 

Robert was a sergeant in the North Carolina National Guard at the time of his death on June 29, 2009.  After the initial shock and going through the harsh reality of a military funeral with our daughter-in-law and grandchildren and our other children, we felt the need to get away ... but we didn’t want to leave Robert behind.  A friend made a suggestion that has not only brought us inner peace, but also touched the hearts of many other people.

Before we left to travel to points unknown in the western U.S., we had some cards made up and laminated .... Robert’s photo was on one side, and this message was on the reverse side:

This is a photo of our son, Robert Bittiker.  He and 3 other NC National Guardsmen were killed by an IED in Iraq on June 29, 2009.  We placed his photograph here as we think this would be a special place to him.  We would love it if you would take this photo and move it to a place that is special to you, and then email us and let us know where you placed it.

Brian and Mary Wheat  

Jacksonville, NC

We left these cards in many places in our travels, each time wondering if anyone would find them and take them; but even if they didn’t we thought, we had taken our son along with us on this trip .... he was still with us in some small way, and we felt good about that.

As you make your way through “Our Patriot’s Journey,” you will see where we traveled, and how far Robert has come since we returned home.  People did pick up his card, and many have taken the time to write to us .... the obvious time and thought put into their e-mails has touched us deeply and brought us an inner peace and joy to know that Robert’s journey on earth is not over just yet ..... he continues on in the minds and hearts of his family and friends, but also in the hearts of perfect strangers. 

Click below to see the map where Robert’s new friends have taken him, and then click through to read the heartwarming stories that we will treasure forever.  Our heartfelt thanks to all those strangers along the highway who took Robert along for the ride, and lessened our pain with their thoughtfulness.


Two ways to view:  MAPS


See the destination map for USA, Canada, Panama, middle east and Afghanistan, where cards were found and/or left

European map where cards were left or found

Or .... See the Timeline for Emails Received/Cards found


Read the stories and see photos of destinations of Robert Bittiker


Starred entries in the timeline indicate updates from people who have written to us again.

Please note ....

In order to respect the privacy and protect the identities of those who were kind enough to write to us, we have removed all names and identifying information from the posts if requested.  Photos of the individuals shown are posted with permission only.


Click photo to see Jacksonville National Guard Memorial

Robert’s photo can also be seen now at St. Paul’s Chapel Remembrance Table at Ground Zero, New York City


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Words of Honor





 Background & graphics courtesy of Backgrounds by Marie

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