Sgt. Douglas Riney died in Afghanistan, which was mentioned just once during the presidential debates. He was laid to rest one week before the next commander-in-chief is chosen by a country that’s forgotten Americans are dying.”>
CANTON, Illinois After thanking a human for his kind words, Dave Riney stood with his hands at his side in expectation that another would soon approach.
Dave had been shaking hands and receiving hugs and thanking people for their compassion since the funeral began at 11 a.m. on Monday, through the procession in this small town that involved dozens of fire trucks and hundreds of motorcycle riders, and at the gravesite where those hundreds and at least a hundred more watched the service.
Dave Riney has been doing all of this since the moment his son landed at the nearby National Guard base, his body in a coffin that was draped with the flag.
Now, Dave is to be able to sit down.
Its overwhelming, he told. Theres simply no other way to put it.
Dave was not talking about the death of his son, Douglas Riney, 26, who along with a civilian Army employee was murdered by a gunman in an Afghan army uniform in Kabul on Oct. 19. No, Dave is overwhelmed because of the groundswell of support that has taken some of the load off the Rineys as they unexpectedly dealt with the worst homecoming a military family can experience.
I just cant express how amazing its been, he said.
Riney and Michael Sauro were at an ammo supplying depot when the gunman opened fire, killing them and wounding three others. The Department of Defense has not told who the gunman was, just that he was taken down by someone after he killed Riney and Sauro.
Whoever he is, his act of violence reminds us that the second-longest war in our nations history is in danger of becoming a forgotten one. Afghanistan was referenced once in three presidential debates and its unlikely that will change in the next seven days.( The same goes for Kenya, where a U.S. special forces soldier was killed merely two days before Riney died. The United States has hundreds of troops working with local forces-out there and in Somalia .) ISIS get our attention now, and the Mosul offensive that has also cost at least one American life. The fact that the Taliban has taken back 85 percent of Helmand Provinceterritory paid for with nearly 1,000 American livesdoes not.
Riney and Sauro are the fifth and sixth Americans to die in Afghanistan this year. Two soldiers have died in combat in 2016, one has died outside of combat, and two more have died while searching for or dismantling improvised explosive devices, according to the Department of Defense.
Riney left behind a wife and two children, a mom, a step-mother, a niece, and his father.
His nieces school kids wrote letters for him, statements Kay, who helped to set up lunch at the church where Dave finished out his long, sad day.
A boy named Logan depicted a Purple Heart and told the Riney family that Doug deserved the honor.
We all appreciate what he did, the boy wrote. He sacrificed their own lives for our country.
That sacrifice is why so many showed presented up on Friday, to escort Rineys body from the base. A procession of fire trucks( Riney was a volunteer firemen ), and people lining the street to watch it go by.
Shit, that stuff happened all the time back then, a friend, Nick, huffed. Nick certified Riney for scuba diving so the soldier could be on his local fire departments dive team. Wattss son, a police officer at Western Illinois University, taught Riney when he took a criminal investigations class there.
Both humen are members of the American Legion, a veterans group that is fading here in Illinois as men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan find households and work, and little time to volunteer for the organization.
I ran 16 hours a day for 40 years, told Larry Ginglen, the states members of American Legion Post 138 out of Havana, Illinois. Like Jim Watts, Nick and Ginglens companion from havana, Dan Gunter, Ginglen volunteered to attend Rineys funeral on Monday, just as he did for 29 military funerals last year. Wattss Canton American Legion post worked 52 of them.
I understand that people are busy when they come back, Ginglen said of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. But the problem is that you still have an obligation to this country.
Unfortunately, funerals are often the place where the Legion comes into contact with many young veterans.
Theyre having a difficult time attracting those younger veterans, each of the men said in one form or another.
So they do what they can. They host barbeques to keep the illuminations on at the Legion hall. Some vestibules operate bars to bring in extra money. They coordinate for military funeralsin Rineys case bringing in a band educator and Guard reservist from the Chicago suburbs to play tapsand line up other Legionnaires to hold flags at gravesites.
Each funeral takes 18 to 20 of them, Ginglen told, a levy attempt for the 72 each member of his post in Havana.
Some of them introduced themselves to Dave. Others just didnt have the time. With the amount of people who have said fluctuations of Im sorry for your loss to the grieving father in recent days, its hard to tell if hell recollect all of the men who volunteered to give his son a final salute on a windy day with the foliages beginning to fissure and fall to the ground. But theyll remember him, and theyll be here for the next one, whether we recollect or not.
Thats just what we do, Ginglen said.
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