Lt. Rich Heine Expected Back From Iraq
by Judy Silberstein, photographs supplied by Rich Heine
(August 5, 2003) It’s been close to six months since
Larchmont Fire Department Lieutenant Rich Heine was called
up for active
duty with the Navy Reserves and family, friends
and colleagues can’t wait for him to return. Now it looks like they will
only have to wait a few weeks more.
Heine’s tour of duty began on February 12 and brought
him first to North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, but by the
end of the month he was in Kuwait awaiting the start of the
Iraqi campaign. (See: US Military
Build-up Impacts Larchmont.)
“My detachment entered into Iraq shortly after the
war started,” he wrote. And that’s where he’s
been – in places like Nasiriyah, Diwaniyah, Baghdad
and Al Kut, where he spent the last 50 or so days of his mission.
Accommodations varied, as seen in the photo below.
“Our main mission was to provide communications for
Task Force Tarawa and other units during the war and afterwards,” he
explained. Heine’s particular role was as a medical
transportation in Iraq resembled what can be found
in Larchmont (see photo) - though the military tends to shy
and red for its Humvees.
Back in Larchmont, a large support group has been emailing,
writing and sending care packages of food, toiletries, clothing
and pictures. Heine’s photograph (with and without
mustache) is pasted on the firehouse door, the bulletin board
and even one of the fire engines. Larchmont
has caught glimpses of Lt. Heine in the Middle East via television,
received dispatches via telephone (see:Call
From Kuwait: Rich Heine's Camp Target of Iraqi Scud),
and kept up on the details with email.
Televised images of Iraqis interacting with Americans show
a mix of reactions, but Heine commented, “Most of the
Iraqis I have met seem to be happy that we are here but are
worried that Saddam may return or that someone just as bad
will take his place. The Iraqis are a very industrious people
and seem to be looking to the future.”
“As for when I may be returning, I am unable to say
when,” Heine concluded, “but I expect to be back
in the States before the end of the month.”
That’s welcome news in Larchmont. “We’re
happy he’s finally coming home,” said sister
Marian Hassenfratz, who can’t wait to get him back.
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