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Jun 9, 2010 10:46 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Shelter Island soldier killed in Afghanistan

Jun 9, 2010 10:46 AM

The Shelter Island and Sag Harbor communities are expected to turn out en masse on Friday to honor U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Joseph Theinert, a native of Shelter Island, who died in Afghanistan.

A 2004 graduate of Shelter Island School who spent a lot of time with his father in Sag Harbor, 1st Lt. Theinert died Friday morning when an improvised explosive device, commonly known as an IED, went off while he was on foot patrol. He was serving in Afghanistan with Bravo Troop 1-71 Cavalry, said his mother, Chrystyna Kestler.

The 24-year-old’s death has generated an outpouring of support from the community, said Shelter Island Town Supervisor James Dougherty. There are volunteers cooking food for his funeral, tentatively planned for Friday on the grounds of the Shelter Island School, and for the wake, which may be held one day earlier at Our Lady of the Isle Roman Catholic Church, Mr. Dougherty said.

The dates of the services hinge on when 1st Lt. Theinert’s body can be returned home from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Mr. Dougherty explained.

“Everyone is absolutely numb,” Mr. Dougherty said. “We’re just in shock. This has brought home to us that the world’s events even reach our quiet little shores. We’ve been struck down.”

Ms. Kestler said that her son’s lifelong dream was to be an officer in the Army—not the Navy, Marines, or any other branch of the military, but specifically the Army, she said.

“He’s the only young person that I know who, from the moment he could talk, died being what he wanted to be,” she said. “It’s that specific.”

1st Lt. Theinert also loved cowboys, and was able to fulfill a part of that dream, too, in the Army, Ms. Kestler said. He was a member of the 10th Mountain Division, and the uniform for that division called for a Stetson cowboy hat and cowboy boots and spurs.

“He got to be cowboy Joe and G.I. Joe,” she said.

Christine Cava, 1st Lt. Theinert’s sister-in-law, noted that military service is a tradition in the family. His grandfather served, as did his uncles and great-uncles.

“Everyone when they’re little wants to be a soldier or a 
fireman,” said 1st Lt. Theinert’s father, James Theinert of Sag Harbor. “I take great 
solace in that he achieved his dream.”

Mr. Theinert said that he and his son did many things together, and said that 1st Lt. Theinert always loved playing lacrosse and learning about history.

“He was a good kid,” he said. “I know I’m his father and sound a little prejudiced on this, but as a kid he was a role model to others, to his peers.”

1st Lt. Theinert’s remains are expected to arrive at Francis S. Gabreski airport in Westhampton at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Mr. Dougherty said. There will 
then be a procession through Sag Harbor to Shelter Island, he said.

The procession will travel over the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, named after the Sag Harbor Marine who died in 2008 in Iraq.

Pending the arrival of 1st Lt. Theinert’s remains, a wake will be held from 2 to 9 p.m. at Our Lady of the Isle Roman Catholic Church in Shelter Island on Thursday, June 10. His funeral will be held on the grounds of the Shelter Island school at 1 p.m. Friday, June 11. After the services, 1st Lt. Theinert will be buried at Our Lady of the Isle Catholic Cemetery.

In honor of 1st Lt. Theinert, Governor David Paterson has ordered that all flags on New York State government buildings be flown at half-staff on Thursday, June 10

Mr. Theinert said he is grateful to the community for their support, but emphasized that he is just a father struggling to deal with the death of his son.

“Everyone will try to grab a hold of him whether he’s a hero or just a poor boy who died,” Mr. Theinert said. “To me, he was just my Joe.”

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My deepest sympathy to the family of Lt. Theinhart.
God Bless this defender of freedom and take him into your kingdom to stand with all the heroes who have paid the "Last full measure of Devotion" for the freedom of others.
Bless our Soldiers for they are the guardians of true Freedom.
By JackC574 (21), Southampton on Jun 7, 10 6:00 AM
3 members liked this comment
My deepest sympathies. There are no words that we can say to lessen the pain or make it better. I hope that you can take comfort in the fact that so many people will carry Joseph in our hearts and will be forever thankful for his supreme sacrifice. May he rest in peace. (((((Love, hugs and kisses)))))
By honeylamb (71), East Quogue on Jun 7, 10 6:09 AM
Ride on, brave warrior. Your sacrifice will be added to the rolls of those who have paid the ultimate price for this nation's freedom, and we will not forget you. Bless your parents and family, too, and please smile down on them and give thm comfort. I also dearly hope that some memorial will be made for you on Shelter Island--something at the high school, even renaming it in yuor honor, would be totally appropriate.

A note to Ms. DiNapoli: It's Army 1st Lieutenant Joeseph Theinhart, not ...more
By Capt. Phil (63), Southampton on Jun 7, 10 8:46 AM
3 members liked this comment
With all due respect to Capt. Phil--it's "your" not "yuor." Also, "Joseph" not Joeseph." (For that matter, it's also "them," not "thm.")
Lastly, if you'lre going to be a stickler, please include the entire title in references to this man. Rather than Lieutenant Theinhart, let's go with "Army 1st Lieutenant Theinhart."
My sincere condolences to this man's family and friends.
By Manorville Major (16), manorville on Jun 7, 10 12:13 PM
Sorry, Major--my fingers sometimes get ahead of my keyboarding skills. I was trying to concentrate on the substance over the spelling. I'll try to do "gooder" in future.
By Capt. Phil (63), Southampton on Jun 8, 10 12:54 PM
Joseph's last name is Theinert
By claudine (1), Central Islip on Jun 7, 10 6:17 PM
Lieutenant Thienhart was a hero to our country, to our freedom, and to us all. Let him be remembered as such and let us not forget his sacrifice.
By SHlocal12 (16), Southampton on Jun 7, 10 11:43 PM
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
~Joseph Campbell

May Army 1st Lieutenant Joseph Theinert's parents, family, friends and fellow soldiers take peace in that.
By LINYCGirl (7), New York on Jun 8, 10 2:49 PM
Not sure if this link will work, but the NY Times has a picture of a fellow soldier mourning the loss of 1st Lt Thienhart.

By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Jun 8, 10 7:56 PM
Not sure why they grouped all of those various photos together, I guess that's why it's called "pictures of the day." Scroll to the 7th image.
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Jun 8, 10 8:01 PM
Peace and prayers to the family of this brave young man...God Bless you all...
By gansetteer (125), East Hampton on Jun 9, 10 5:45 PM
My husband and I were on County Road 104 this afternoon, when we saw this brave young man come home. Our prayers and thoghts to the family.
By pegslane (1), westhampton on Jun 9, 10 5:49 PM
oh yea, lets send more troops in....Great idea O
By SirHampton (60), quogue on Jun 12, 10 8:05 AM
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