Army 1st Lt. Joseph J. Theinert
Died June 04, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
24, of Sag Harbor, N.Y.; a New York Army National Guardsman assigned to the 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.; died June 4 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device during a dismounted patrol.
(The following was taken from www.easthamptonstar.com of June 10, 2010) Just days after the American military death toll in Afghanistan reached 1,000, a native of the East End was killed. New York Army National Guard First Lt. Joseph J. Theinert, a 24-year-old from Shelter Island, died in Kandahar on Friday. He is the second East End resident to die in combat since Sept. 11, 2001.
Lieutenant Theinert was assigned to the Army’s 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, part of the 10th Mountain Division. According to the Department of Defense, he was killed when an improvised explosive device was detonated during a dismounted patrol. It was his first tour of duty. He was one of 819 members of the New York Army National Guard deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan or on active duty.
His father, James Theinert of Noyac, said he and his family were “drawing our strength from Joe.” His son had always wanted to be a soldier, his father said, having grown up listening to stories from his maternal grandfather, Joseph Skovira, a Pearl Harbor survivor whom he was named after.
Service was a tradition on his father’s side of the family, too. Mr. Theinert was a third-generation member of the Fire Department of New York City, and his son was on the F.D.N.Y.’s list too, a second choice to a career in the Army. His grandmother, Patricia Theinert of Sag Harbor, had been a Navy Wave, and his paternal grandfather served in World War II.
"It was in his DNA, I guess,” Mr. Theinert said. “It was his dream. A difficult dream for a family to foster.”
While the Department of Defense listed Mr. Theinert as a resident of Sag Harbor, he was raised on Shelter Island and is a 2004 graduate of Shelter Island High School. His funeral services will take place there, with a wake at Our Lady of the Isle Catholic Church today from 2 to 9 p.m., and a funeral on the grounds of the Shelter Island School tomorrow at 1 p.m.
Gov. David A. Paterson has directed that all flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff today in honor of Lieutenant Theinert. Flags have been flying at half-staff on Shelter Island since the news reached the island on Saturday.
His remains were flown into the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday, but the Army did not release them to his family until yesterday. He was flown to Gabreski Airport in Westhampton yesterday afternoon. A procession with military and police escort was expected to be led through the South Fork with fire departments raising their ladders as a salute.
Mr. Theinert said the procession with his son’s remains would go through Sag Harbor and over the Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Hearter Memorial Bridge to North Haven. A maritime honor guard will line up on both sides of the ferry crossing as the Southern Cross, to be renamed the Lt. Joseph Theinert, takes his remains across to Shelter Island.
Cliff Clark, an owner of the South Ferry, decided to rename the Southern Cross in his honor, according to Mr. Theinert. “I told him I just didn’t want people to forget Joe,” Mr. Theinert said of his conversation with Mr. Clark. “Jordan has his bridge, and now Joe has his ship.”
“The town has really mobilized for his family,” Shelter Island Supervisor Jim Dougherty said on Tuesday, adding that he has ordered that the day of the funeral be a day of mourning for the town. “The Sag Harbor community has been a big help to us. They’ve been counseling us.”
Through tears, Mr. Theinert remembered his son as “an incredible person.” He said, “Everybody thinks of him as a war hero and all that stuff . . . he didn’t have a mean bone in his body.”
“He was just my boy, my Joe, and his mom’s Joe,” he said. “The real tragedy in all this are those that never knew him.”
Lieutenant Theinert graduated from the State University at Albany in the spring of 2008 with a bachelor’s degree. That May, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant through the Siena College Reserve Officer Training Corps Program. In July he reported to Fort Drum after completing the Army officer’s basic leadership course. He was promoted to first lieutenant in November.
His awards include the Army Service Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. He is expected to receive the Afghan Campaign Medal, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Action Badge posthumously, according to the Department of Defense.
At 6 feet 3 inches tall, he was an athlete. In high school he excelled at cross-country, lacrosse, and basketball, playing with Shelter Island, Pierson High School in Sag Harbor, and the Ross School in East Hampton. According to his Facebook page, he also enjoyed hunting and paintball.
Lindsay Springer, a childhood friend from Shelter Island, said, “To know him was to love him. He was there when you needed him. He was always there to make you smile. For that, I will always be grateful to have known him.” Friends also remembered him as polite, respectful, and fun.
He was the middle child of three boys. His parents were divorced. In addition to his parents, stepfather, and step-siblings, he is survived by his brothers, Billy Theinert of Bethpage and Jimbo Theinert of Shelter Island.
Lieutenant Theinert was one of a dozen men and women from Shelter Island who have served during the past nine years of war. One of them is his stepfather, Frank Kestler, a Shelter Island dentist and lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve. Mr. Kestler served in Iraq in 2008.
His family has set up a Web site to remember him at fallensoldiersi.com.