PORTLAND, ME, USA U.S. Army SGT, HEADQUARTERS SERVICE CO, 133RD ENGINEER BN, PORTLAND, MAINE 04345 BAGHDAD, IRAQ 04/20/2004
Specialist Christopher D. Gelineau of Portland, Maine was killed in a convoy ambush near Mosul, Iraq on April 20th, 2004. He was a member of the 133rd Engineer Battalion of the Maine Army National Guard.
Prior to his mobilization and deployment to Iraq the 23-year-old was a senior at the University of Southern Maine where he studied information and communications technology. Specialist Gelineau grew up in Vermont. He graduated from Mount Abraham Union High in Briston, Vermont. He was promoted posthumously to Sergeant and was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
At Christopher’s funeral service, many dabbed at their eyes as the lyrics to “Arms of the Angels” wafted through the hangar-sized building at Camp Marez. Others just stared at the impeccably arranged memorial – an M-16 rifle standing barrel-down between a pair of boots, a helmet perched atop the rifle stock, a set of dog tags hanging off the weapon’s handle, a soldier’s shirt with the name “Gelineau” stitched above the left pocket – as if they still didn’t believe what they were seeing. Then it was Lieutenant Colonel John Jansen’s turn to speak. The commanding officer of the 133rd saw Gelineau almost every day – the young specialist worked with Jansen as part of a small detachment assigned to Saddam Hussein’s former palace at Camp Freedom.
“Our hearts are very heavy,” Jansen said. “And our thoughts and prayers are focused on his wife and family members.” Jansen spoke of Gelineau’s unusually strong devotion to his wife, Lavinia, his sense of humor and “special way of making difficult days just a little brighter.”
As Jansen spoke, a slide of Gelineau filled the white wall behind the stage. It showed him standing outside “The Palace” as the battalion’s guidon bearer – a position of honor bestowed on the soldier deemed most worthy to carry the 133rd’s colors. Jansen recalled the day it was taken – the same day the 133rd officially began its mission in Iraq.
“He stood tall, with a smile on his face – and I could tell he was very proud to be the one carrying our colors,” Jansen said. “I know that on the day our mission is complete here and we furl our colors, Christopher will be there with us.” Finally, Jansen addressed his fallen soldier.
“Chris,” he said, his voice breaking. “I will miss you . . . and I will pray for you to find a place in heaven that you so righteously deserve.”
And so it went. Steinbuchel, in whose company Gelineau served, spoke of “Chris’ contagious smile, quick wit and humor.” Gelineau’s friend, Specialist Franz Oberlerchner, said:
“He was, like, one of those kids who was extremely smart with computers and whatnot,” Oberlerchner now said, recalling how many times Gelineau bailed him out of high-tech jams while they worked together in the 133rd’s administrative unit. But Gelineau was more than just smart, Oberlerchner added. He was selfless.
Specialist Gelineau leaves behind his wife Lavinia Gelineau. Tragically, on April 1st, 2005, almost one year after her husband’s death, Lavinia Gelineau was killed in her Westbrook, Maine home.