By Scott Flenner
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 6, 2009 - Hours on a route clearance mission can lead to many inside jokes. For soldiers of the 688th Engineer Company's 2nd Platoon, their platoon leader provided the ammunition. The holder of three types of martial arts black belts, Army 1st Lt. Richard Warehime is fondly referred to as "happy feet" by his soldiers. And while the soldiers joke, they also are quick to explain why their "LT" is one of the best.
For the past year, Warehime has successfully led his platoon, which is attached to the 890th Engineer Battalion, 225th Engineer Brigade, down some of the most dangerous routes in Baghdad, clearing them of explosives that threaten the safety of everyone in Iraq.
"Every day, I wake up and consider myself very fortunate to work with the group of people that I do," Warehime, a Texarkana, Texas, native, said. "What I enjoy most is the platoon, just being around the guys."
Along with his daily platoon leader tasks of mission planning, intelligence gathering and overall command and control of his soldiers, Warehime leads his soldiers from the front by performing every duty, driving every vehicle and completing every task involved in a route clearance mission.
"I wanted to learn more about the vehicles and what jobs the other soldiers do so I started driving and [troop commanding] different vehicles," Warehime said. "[The knowledge] is very beneficial ... I would not ask my soldiers to do a job that I would not do myself."
Of his favorite vehicle, he said, "The buffalo is nice because it is a lot more powerful to smash stuff, but I really like the husky. It is a lot more versatile vehicle, the most survivable vehicle and it can tow anything. It is probably my favorite because it is so useful."
Warehime has gained the respect and confidence of his soldiers and command over the past year.
"He is an extraordinary, incredible officer with a ton of talent who brought the best out of his soldiers," Army Capt. Marc Anderson, commander for the 688th Engineer Company, said. "I have been impressed with him from the time we started. Throughout the deployment, he continually encouraged soldiers to bring ideas and concepts forward, and that is what makes him a great leader."
(Scott Flenner works for the 225th Engineer Brigade.)