Pfc Shane M. Reifert

Pfc Shane M. Reifert
Shane during a sweep of the Shuryak Valley, approximately 3 weeks before he was killed. Photo Credit: PFC Sean Stromback

Friday, August 26, 2011

Breaker, Breaker

Shane was so proud to earn his Infantry Blue Cord. I remember how proud Kurt was to pin the cord on Shane’s right shoulder. This memory seems like another lifetime to me; it is clouded in the belief that Shane would be fine, Shane would return home, Shane would be starting to write his novel.

In Shane’s mind, when he joined the Army there was no greater position than to be part of the Infantry. Shane was good with his weapons, actually very good. During JRTC, it was discovered that there was a need for a new radio telephone operator (RTO). Shane was selected by SFC Bolin and CPT Hinrichs because he was “very smart and strong.” To put it mildly, Shane was not a happy camper. This was not his desire, but these were his orders. In very little time, Shane had to learn many operating systems and codes before they deployed to Afghanistan.

After learning about Shane’s new position from Kurt, I decided to try and lighten up Shane’s mood. I sent him a message with the title, “Breaker, Breaker.” Shane did not find my humor entertaining. Actually, it was one of the few times that Shane was fairly angry with me. The anger did not last long, but Shane remained as the RTO until he came home in September.

Shane spent many hours alongside his Platoon Leader (CPT Sean Hinrichs). I have often wondered what, if any, conversations were had between Sean and Shane. After all, Sean was a commissioned officer, and Shane was an enlisted soldier. I know Shane was very guarded about his personal life, and I have wondered if Sean was the same. Recently, I emailed Sean about my thoughts, and he politely responded. It was as I had thought – small talk, jokes, the crappiness of a situation.

Sean shared this memory of Shane in an email dated November of 2010. “As our time in Afghanistan increased I got to know Shane quite well. He bestowed on me the greatest honor a Platoon Leader could ever receive. During our Combat Patch ceremony, a ceremony that marks the first time a newly deployed Soldier can don a Combat Patch, Shane asked me to put the patch on his right shoulder. It may seem like a simple gesture but to me it was something special and something I will never forget.”

I have yet to meet Sean, but I have met Sean’s father and uncle. Sean’s father and uncle flew in to attend Shane’s funeral. Kurt, Beth, and I were so humbled that these gentlemen rearranged their schedules and were able to represent Sean. This action speaks volumes; it measures the greatness of the brotherhood of the Bushmaster Brothers. To this day, I still try and grasp the depth of this brotherhood. I am beginning to wonder if I will ever truly understand this brotherhood, but I do know this much, from cord to patch, Shane was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for his brothers-in arms.

As I continue to “put one foot in front of the other.”

Always and forever,
Shane’s Mammy and Beth’s Momma