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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 Heineduty 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.

tents

“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 corpsman.

HumveeHeine's transportation in Iraq resembled what can be found in Larchmont (see photo) - though the military tends to shy away from yellow 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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