Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Charlie Heinlein remembered by dad

When Pvt. Charles T. Heinlein, 23, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery today, his father will remember an independent little boy who grew up to be "the best man I know."

Heinlein and two other soldiers were killed in Iraq on July 31 when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle. He was with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) out of Fort Lewis, Wash.

The son of Thomas Heinlein of Hemlock and Nina Heinlein of Texas, he went to Merrill Schools and attended Hemlock High School. He and his wife, Jessica, lived in Washington state. He also is survived by his grandmother, Donna Lynch, Hemlock; his sister, Jody Heinlein, and his niece, Logan, both of Texas; and many other relatives and friends.

Heinlein's funeral service will be today in Arlington National Cemetery. A memorial service open to everyone will take place at 6 p.m. Friday at the Hemlock-Merrill V.F.W. Post, 17595 W. Gratiot Road.

Thomas Heinlein was in the Washington D.C. area when he talked with the Daily News by phone. He said he remembered a little boy who could "irritate his father and drive his teachers up the wall" at times.

"Charlie was a kid who marched to his own drummer," he said.

He said his son was an individual who was very smart, but sometimes found school boring. He loved to read, and he loved music. His taste in music ranged from "Phantom of the Opera" to the jazz singer Nina Simone to the heavy metal band Metallica.

Charlie, as he preferred to be called, also loved to cook. His dad said he would put together the most amazing recipes, with a pinch of this and a little bit of that. But there was one problem.

"He never could cook the same recipe twice because he didn't remember what he did," Thomas said. Charlie then would cook up a new amazing recipe.

Thomas said his son had a knack of finding friends and turning them into family. He cared about his fellow soldiers "more than anything."

"He was very proud to be part of the Army," Thomas said. "It was like a family for him."

Thomas had opposing emotions about his son being in the Army.

"I was proud of him and scared to death," he said.

Charlie felt a strong sense of duty and felt the United States was doing good things in Iraq. Part of his work was taking supplies to places like schools and hospitals, and he was proud of what he did there.

Thomas viewed his son's body Tuesday evening.

"I said my final goodbyes for now," Thomas said.

He feels that Charlie now is watching over them, that he loves his family so much that it would take more than death for him not to watch over them.

Still, there's the loss.

"I've lost a large section of my future," Thomas said.

From the Midland Daily Times

Related Link:
Charles T. Heinlein Jr. dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'