When her Girl Scout troop held its recent father/daughter prom, Aubri Warminski attended the dance with her uncle Joe Flynn III, president of Flynn's Tire Co. based in Mercer.
Meanwhile, her father, Staff Sgt. Joe Warminski, is serving in Iraq with the 350th Psychological Operations Co., a U.S. Army unit charged with capturing terrorists. Nine-year-old Aubri had fun with her Uncle Joe at the prom, but it wasn't the same, according to her mother, Tania Warminski, who is vice president of Flynn's Tire.
``She's been much stronger than I would be at that age in this situation,'' Mrs. Warminski told Tire Business. ``She's been a real trooper through all of this.''
``It was a little bit sad. (Aubri) cried. She missed her daddy and everything,'' Mr. Flynn said of the prom.
Staff Sgt. Warminski, 40, an Army reservist, was called back into full-time service in July and arrived in Iraq on Sept. 11 for a 12- to possibly 18-month tour of duty. Besides his wife and daughter, he also left behind his job at Flynn's Tire, where as project manager he was responsible for new construction, additions and remodeling of the dealership's 20 locations.
He is serving in Tikrit and already has been in Fallujah, Mosul, Samarra and Baghdad.
Like police SWAT teams that stake out crack houses, Staff Sgt. Warminski's company often works in groups of four and raids suspected terrorist hideouts-with the first individual kicking down a door while the other three enter one by one and go searching in opposite directions, Mrs. Warminski explained.
She noted that her husband can't tell her much about his missions, but she does receive e-mail from him about every two weeks and sometimes phone calls.
``I keep telling myself that a year goes by very quickly and that before I know it he will be home, and this will be a memory,'' she said.
Mr. Flynn said that two dealership employees who formerly served as project managers before Staff Sgt. Warminski are now filling in for him until he returns in addition to their other duties. He has worked for Flynn's Tire for the past 10 years, according to Mr. Flynn.
``I'm worried about him,'' Mr. Flynn said of his brother-in-law. ``But at the same time I'm very appreciative of what he's doing....I just e-mailed him and asked what he wants me to get his daughter for Christmas. He wasn't sure what all the new trends were, so he just told me to get something and let him know what it was.''
Mr. Flynn noted that Staff Sgt. Warminski has been very upbeat and positive about the circumstances.
Just like many military families, Mrs. Warminski said the separation can be really hard at times. It has caused her to respect single moms more as well as the housework her husband did while home. She said she also appreciates the ability to go to restaurants, the grocery store, fast food places-anywhere.
``I know that Joe and the other soldiers can't do those simple little things that we many times complain about,'' Mrs. Warminski said. ``The people in many countries can't go to school, church, the playground. I just appreciate all of the little things so much more.''
Staff Sgt. War-minski already has received his Christmas gifts from his family, she said. Many employees from Flynn's Tire and other companies also have sent packages of food items, toys, pictures and voice recordings and other items for him and his company, according to Mr. Flynn.
``It's great that he can let someone know what he needs and approximately 10 days later it's there,'' Mrs. Warminski said. ``Everyone has been wonderful. He is very appreciative. When he or any of the soldiers receive anything, they share it.
``Joe told me that he has the greatest people around him,'' she added. ``Many of them are very young. I believe that all 13 individuals that work closely with Joe are under 20 or at least most are.''