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

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Candy Wrappers

Candy wrappers, silly subject, but they won’t leave my mind.

When we were at Fort Campbell for our visit in the fall, we received some of Shane’s belongings.

When Shane was killed in Afghanistan, his belongings were packed up and shipped stateside. Shane’s uniforms were laundered and neatly folded. Shane’s books and letters were neatly packed. Shane’s electronics were safely packed. I was so grateful to touch his iPod because we had gone shopping for a new one. I remember having to sign one of the many documents verifying the return of the items.

I was saddened because nothing smelled like Shane. The only glimpse of Shane was the ruffling of the edges on the letters or sand that had fallen into the pages of books.

Candy wrappers…

The very last letter we received from Shane when he was at Fort Benning for OSUT (One Station Unit Training) was postmarked November 09, 2009. The letter is eleven pages in length, written over one week’s span. The letter begins with, “Well, Holy shit is all I can say….” I can close my eyes and hear the excitement in Shane’s voice. The letter is filled with Shane’s advanced individual training for the Infantry. The letter is written with similes and metaphors – just trying to give us a glimpse of his training. Included in the letter is a, “PS – I included a candy wrapper for the candy they gave us on Halloween. Remind me to tell you the story sometime.” The wrapper has a scary monster with glowing eyes and a wiggly smile. Shane did share the story, which put smiles on our faces.

Candy wrappers…

I have previously posted about our last visit to Fort Campbell. During the visit, we met Chris Childs, who was one of Shane’s good buddies. Chris told Kurt that he had some of Shane’s belongings that were mistakenly not sent to us. Chris took great care of Shane’s belongings for the remainder of the tour. Chris gave Kurt one of Shane’s duffle bags and his rucksack.

Included in the duffle bag was Shane’s beret. Oh, we were all so grateful to receive that beret. I can close my eyes and see Shane putting on the beret during the family day weekend at Fort Benning. He was so proud to place the beret on his head, which meant he had qualified for an overnight visit with his family.

Also, in the duffle bag were a couple of Shane’s uniforms. Yes, dirty uniforms! Uniforms that did not smell like my Shane, but the Army Shane. Yet, I was so grateful that the uniforms came with sand and stains and dirt and candy wrappers!

Yes, deep in one of the pockets were a couple of candy wrappers. Kurt was so good at sending Shane and his brothers-in-arms care packages. And there they were – a Starburst wrapper, a Twizzlers wrapper, and a bubble gum wrapper. I felt I had just discovered a priceless treasure. It was a bit of home, it was a bit of trying to give comfort in a godforsaken country, it was a bit of sweetness, it was a bit of love.

Candy wrappers…

Who would have ever guessed something that is so easily discarded could bring so many fond memories?
Yes, a bit of love and so much more.

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

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