The countdown has begun

Keeping the home fires burning Scott Tienter’s family is counting down the days until his return. Front: Kyleigh and Ethan. Middle: Tristan and Kolby. Back: Scott and Amy.

When the 322nd Engineering Company of Decorah was deployed to Afghanistan on Sunday, January 16, the countdown had already begun for one of our own. Army Reservist, Spec. Scott Tienter,  son of Mary Bielefeld and Curt Tienter, will be gone for over a year with the 162-member unit.He found out last summer he would be going to the war-torn country when he had his two-week training in California. “These six months went by fast,” he observed. “I hope the next year goes by just as fast.”
Since then, he and girlfriend Amy Boehmer and her children Tristan (11), Kolby (10), Kyleigh (8) and Ethan (7) were counting the days. Now they have a new countdown—starting on January 13 at number 400, which is the longest he will be gone. If he comes back sooner than the designated due date, so much the better for the family. Scott adds, “The most we can be ‘in country’ is a full year. The rest of the time would be in training in the U.S.”
There have been many preparations for Scott’s leaving. One of the biggest was moving the family to Lime Springs from Cresco. They moved into the Steve Hughes home in September. Locals may have thought an entire football team had moved into the home with all the bikes parked outside, but it was the family of six, along with their five cats and three dogs!
The family was fortunate to get the home. “The day we put the bid in on the house, we had a fire in our trailer!” said Amy. They stayed with friends for over a month before moving into their new home.
“One of the reasons we moved to Lime Springs was because my grandparents are here and my mom is here and my dad is here on the weekends,” Scott explained.
Amy added, “It helps that he grew up here. It’s a good place for the kids to be.” The three younger children go to Lime Springs-Chester Elementary, where Scott attended school years ago. Tristan attends school in Cresco.
Scott and Amy attended a meeting in St. Paul to help them understand what will happen when he leaves and what is available for those left behind. “They have support groups and lots of stuff for the family—like summer camps for the kids. We’ve also talked to a really good friend who has been gone before,” said Amy.
They got more input from her brother-in-law, Tony Roethler of Elma, who has been deployed before and  left on Sunday with Scott. There is no official list, but others from the area who were deployed are Joe Whitaker, Matt Vine, Kim Vine, Josh Raatz, Kevin Chesmore, Chaz Puffer and Iedeth Behar (whose boyfriend, Leroy Haugland is already serving overseas), all of the Cresco area. (If you know of any other locals who were deployed, please call 563-566-2687.)
The hardest part of leaving is saying good-bye. A week ago, a party was held at the Pit Stop in Cresco for over 200 of Scott and Amy’s closest friends and family. In addition, a couple of family dinners were  held.
Scott started his time in the Army Reserves by leaving for basic training on July 19, 2006. Since then, he has gone to training one weekend a month and two weeks a year. The first year the unit went to Germany, the second year to Honduras and the last two years they have gone to California.
Scott said his regular employer, SMI in Cresco, has been very supportive of his time in the military. “I work third shift and if I was scheduled to work the night before my orders started, they would let me have it off and not charge me for vacation. And, they always give me days off when I need it.”
The Decorah unit left for Fort McCoy, with their latest orders, on January 16. The men and women will have training. Amy says rumor has it the unit may get a four-day pass on March 4 before they leave for Kuwait, where they will get acclimated to the weather, which could be a change of 100 degrees from the snowdrifts of Iowa to the desert heat. They will then go to Afghanistan, where Scott’s job will be as an all-wheel vehicle mechanic.
With tears in her voice, Amy said, “It’s not easy to see him go.” But she understands—maybe more than others—since she also was in the military. “I was in the Air Force. My job was to set up recreational sites for bases. We went to Turkey, Germany and England, as well as places in the United States. But we weren’t there long. We unloaded, set up and left.”
To help make the time go faster, Amy has her children and will continue working at the Panda Garden in Cresco and Missy’s in Lime Springs. She plans to keep the community informed as to what is happening with Scott.
In this day and age it is much easier to stay in touch. Although it won’t make the loneliness go away, the couple will be keeping in touch via the Internet. Amy confesses she isn’t very computer savvy. “I don’t know my e-mail address.” She had to look at her paper. She didn’t even set it up. “The computer guy set it up for me.”
She might not know much about e-mail and such right now, but she will definitely learn how to use Skype and send e-mails over the next 400 days! (Skype is a computer program where a person can talk person-to-person over the computer.)
When asked what they wanted the public to know about Scott’s leaving, Amy answered, “Just show your support to those in the military. They’re sacrificing a lot. Shake their hand and let them know you appreciate what they are doing.”
And don’t forget to thank the families. The ones left behind are also sacrificing a lot.

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