Every year I have students who are planning to join the military. Some follow through with those plans and go on to become fine soldiers. These young men and women are passionate to serve their country. There was no way I could know that Andrew would be the first of my students to pay the ultimate price.
Four years ago, Andrew was in my sixth hour Single Survival Class. His brother, Stephen had gone to the Navy and Andrew couldn't wait to graduate and join the Infantry. He was a kid who loved life, had an infectious grin and took things in stride -- He demonstrated strong Christian principles --He made me laugh at some of his antics -- but one thing he was certain of -- he was going to defend our country. Both brothers are men of integrity and honor.
In August of 2007 Andrew lost part of his foot when a roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee in Iraq. He spent more than a year in Brooke Army Medical Center in rehabilitation. He was determined to return to duty.
On a return visit to school after the accident my co-worker and I were able to hug him and thank him for the stand he took for the cause of freedom. We get pretty emotional when our students return in their uniform -- thinking of how they have put their lives on hold to serve.
Six weeks ago, Andrew arrived in Afghanistan. On Monday he was working a traffic check point when a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing Andrew and 19-yr. old, David T. Miller of Wilton, NY.
Andrew's awards and decorations include: Purple Heart; Army Commendation Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Iraqi Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; Combat Infantry Badge and Weapons Qualification, M4, expert. A memorial is tentatively set for Monday June 28, 2010, at 1900 at the Owasso High School.
It is befitting that Andrew is to be buried in Arlington National Cemetary. . . a place we bury our heroes.
ANDREW R. LOONEY AND DAVID T. MILLER - YOU HAVE MADE THE ULTIMATE -- SACRIFICE FOR OUR FREEDOM --- HOW DO WE THANK YOU?