After Maribeth Reimer got home from her job as the administrative assistant for the Riverside Department of Public Works on Aug. 27, she listened to an ominous phone message. It was the Department of Defense and the caller wanted to talk to her about her son, Christopher.
Spc. Christopher Reimer, 26, a military policeman in the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Special Troop Battalion, had reported for his second tour of duty in Afghanistan just a week earlier, on Aug. 20.
Stationed in Baraki Barak, a village about 100 kilometers from the Pakistani border in Lonar Province, Christopher had just sent his mother a photo of himself along with some fellow soldiers in their battle gear. To her, it looked dangerous.
“I just didn’t feel right about it,” said Maribeth, who had a sinking feeling about this deployment from the start.
She returned the phone call and learned that her son was alive and recovering from shrapnel wounds he received in battle.
According to the serviceman she talked to, Christopher and two others on a patrol were hit by mortar fragments on Aug. 27.
On Aug. 28, Christopher updated his Facebook status, saying, “I can’t believe what happened yesterday. Got shrapnel in both of my legs, back and arms, tore tendons in my ankle and have a nasty cut from shrapnel in my ankle … Surgery went well but still in a lot of pain.”
He also posted a photo of himself, looking a little woozy, taken shortly after getting out of surgery.
That same day, Maribeth Reimer received an email from the Army, which included a copy of her son’s Purple Heart citation, “for wounds received in action on 27 August 2012 in Afghanistan.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 29, Reimer was able to talk with Christopher face to face – via Skype.
“What a relief to see him,” Reimer said.
Christopher had been flown from the combat zone to a hospital in Germany near Ramstein Air Force Base. He may be able to do his rehab in the U.S., said Reimer, but she’s not sure. When she asked a lieutenant if Christopher will be able to make parachute jumps, she was told, “We’re praying he’ll be able to.”
According to Reimer, Christopher enlisted in the Army about four years ago. After graduating from Lyons Township High School and attending the College of DuPage for a time, the Countryside native came home one day and said, “You know, mom, college isn’t for everybody. I want to join the Army.”
Maribeth Reimer’s brother was a Green Beret in Vietnam and another brother was in the Marines.
“I was extremely proud, and I said, ‘Do what you have to do.’ He was very happy,” said Reimer.
Christopher made his first year-long tour of duty in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border two years ago.
“I was a nervous wreck the first time,” said his mom. “This time I was a real nervous wreck.”