Lindsay lady commander reports home

By C.J. Barbre

Roy and Elvira Reini are patriotic to the point that the front of their house is decorated in flag motifs. Even the oversized mailbox is painted with the stars and stripes, fitting on several counts. The Reinis are both Air Force veterans who met in Florida.

They now have a son-in-law in the Air force, a grandson also in the Air Force and another in the Army, but are perhaps most proud of their daughter who is serving in the Army in Iraq. Jacquelin M. Reini, 36, is a graduate of Fresno State with a civil engineering degree who picked up her master's at the University of Missouri and has been in the Army, either active or reserve since age 18. She is a captain with the 3rd Infantry Division Combat Instruction. She is expected to end this tour in February 2006.

Meanwhile the Reinis stay updated through e-mails from their daughter to &#8220Families and Friends of A-Team” that they chose to share with the Sun-Gazette for an insider's look at the War in Iraq. What follows are newsletter excerpts.

Feb. 8, 2005: We have gone to the range to fire our .50 caliber machine gun and the MK-19 (automatic grenade launcher), had a class on Improvised Explosive Devices that disseminated the most current information on both friendly and enemy tactics, techniques and practices.

Feb. 15: Today they did platoon level convoy rehearsals, and we culminated our preparation with a talk-through of the entire route to Iraq (we had a large scale model that we used so the soldiers could visualize).

Feb. 23: I made the long convoy to Baghdad safe and sound. I miss everyone, but staying busy to keep my mind off the good ol' U.S.A.

The Earthmoving Platoon notes it has received more than 30 pieces of equipment including seven bulldozers, seven tractor trailer combinations, three graders, four scrapers, two vibratory rollers, one hydraulic excavator, two water distributors, one 22-ton crane, two LMTV troop carriers, two SEE trucks, two bucket loaders and one HUMVEE, not what one generally thinks of as Army field equipment.

March 16 (update from Feb. 23): The Earthmoving Platoon was sent out to Baghdad to improve the security of an Iraqi Police Station, utilizing large barriers. On the second day their convoy was hit with an Improvised Explosive Device. NOBODY WAS INJURED. The soldiers responded as they were trained to do and the armor on the vehicles provided them with the protection they needed.

Now settled in their new homes in Iraq, the news is coming in the form of a six-page full color newsletter titled Diamonds in the Rough in Iraq. It has with a separate page devoted to each of the four platoons and a page &#8220From the Commander” noting promotions, re-enlistments and birthdays. The newsletter is chock full with three dozen color photos of personnel.

March 24: We had an Iraqi Cultural Awareness class, and a Rules of Engagement class. This week's training will be on Equal Opportunity. Like I said before, training never stops in the Army.

A later newsletter notes that the Equal Opportunity representative educated Alpha Company on the effect that profanity has on morale. &#8220He was a natural up on stage and everyone listened intently.” That's refreshing.

April 15: We continue to maintain our steady pace in completing projects and setting the standard for the rest of the battalion. Even with all the missions that we have, we manage to find time to have a little fun. The morale of the company remains high and their dedication is unwavering. I am immensely proud to be the commander of A-Team, as they continue to contribute to the 3rd Infantry Division's mission.

May 15: Today we had scattered rain with the temperature in the 80s. This is a break from the 105 degrees that we have experienced a few times thus far. In the coming weeks we are expecting temperatures to increase and eventually we will have no escape from the 120+ degrees.

Commander Reini notes that soldiers get to go on leave. Some get two weeks to visiting home while others get a few days to visit another country in the Middle East for shopping, golfing, beauty salons, scuba diving and other R&R activities.

The 2nd Vertical Platoon writes in the newsletter that the forward operating base needed a lot of reconstruction and reinforcement in multiple areas. &#8220This is why the 92nd Engineers came to Iraq, to build and improve.” Definitely a different take on the war.

June 15: Earthmoving Platoon gets a new lieutenant who states, &#8220We have one connection already; we all live in the sandy world of the eternal sun and we are all working to come home safely. Perhaps perfect harmonious peace is too much to ask for, but even in these trying times the mighty soldiers of EM have vigorously sought out the links that bring them together and have demonstrated a strong loyalty to one another and an amazing pride in their work.” 1st Lt. Amy Hutter is a bit of a poet. It appears that the leaders in this (man and woman's) Army are major morale boosters. If that doesn't build team spirit, nothing would.

The 2nd Vertical Platoon Third Squad is busy building a morgue in 100 plus degree weather.

The Maintenance Platoon lists what they miss most about the U.S. as follows: I miss family gatherings and my sister's cooking; FRESH

MILK; My wife and kids, drinking REAL beer and sleeping in a nice bed; Working on my home; The feeling of being safe; Taco Bell and Margaritas!; Wal-Mart; Bass Pro Shop; McDonald's.

July 15: Hutter speaks of her Earthmoving Platoon moving concrete barriers to protect another police station. &#8220Severely hindered by height and width restrictions, they still manage to accomplish a two-day mission in one day. This was done in full battle uniform in about 110 degree weather. Their work was superb and the customer was inquiring about maybe fixing a couple of other Iraqi Police stations.”

The Maintenance Platoon continues to keep the company going. They wake up at 0300 to start work at 0400, trying to beat the heat.

Aug. 15: The company is half way through their deployment. The one accident/injury has been to a soldier who had his foot crushed by a &#8220Jersey Barrier.” Commander Reini writes that the soldier has endured five surgeries thus far and will not be returning to Iraq, &#8220But we expect him to be waiting to greet us when we return next year.” A front page paragraph reads, &#8220Cpt. Reini and 1SG driving out to the work sites ever afternoon to be with the soldiers and spread their wealth of knowledge and ensure that Alpha Company sets the standard in all that we do. It has been a privilege working with them both. Know that your soldier has great leadership watching over them.”

Sept. 15: Cpt. Reini writes that they are saying farewell to the senior enlisted soldier of the company, 1SG Guzman, &#8220Nothing short of true professional that provided your soldiers with guidance, mentoring and, at times, a stern counseling when they needed it. He has never placed himself above your soldiers and he truly believed that it is a privilege to lead soldiers, not a right.”

1st Vertical Platoon writes about a perfect safety record, noting they have had no work-related injuries. Earthmoving Platoon has constructed three miles of road and several parking lots. The temperature is starting to come down and may drop below 100 before the month is up.

Oct. 15: The last &#8220From the Commander” log reads in part, &#8220As we wake up the temperatures are in the low 50s with highs bounding from mid 70s to mid 80s. The soldiers are doing there best to keep their mission focus, but with all the talk about redeployment, I know that they are being blinded by the light at the end of the tunnel. We have spent the last month wrapping up most of our final large-scale projects, with only one left to complete. We will continue receiving missions for the next two months all while we begin preparations to come back home.”

All the soldiers from the 92nd Engineering Battalion will be home by mid February.

A-Team leads the way!

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