Andy Andrews

Andy Andrews & Rosemary (Casey) Pappas

ROBERT P. ANDREWS  1962 (Silver Star, Army Commendation Medal with V & Oak Leaf, P H, CIB)

Cullum No. 24027-1962 | September 3, 1966 | Died in Vietnam
Interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY

On 3 September 1966, north of Cu Chi, Republic of Vietnam, the first platoon of Charlie Company (4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry, 25th Infantry Division) was unknowingly in trouble. It had moved into a heavily mined and booby trapped area which surrounded a well concealed and fortified bunker. Moments later, the unsuspecting platoon began receiving accurate and deadly rifle, grenades, and automatic weapons fire. The company commander, realizing the precarious situation his unit was in and the necessity for immediate and effective action, rapidly organized and personally led an assault on the enemy bunker. The assault culminated in the destruction of an enemy stronghold, but in its wake, claimed the life of Charlie Company’s commander and a great son of West Point, Captain Robert Phillip Andrews.

Andy was born in Chicago on 1 December 1939. He spent his early years in New York, California, and Texas, but eventually returned to his birthplace and attended Austin High School. He established an excellent record as a student and class leader and achieved the grade of Lieutenant Colonel in the school’s ROTC program.

Following high school graduation, Andy entered the University of Illinois as a midshipman in the NROTC program. One year later his interest in naval life remained minimal, and it was with much elation that he accepted an appointment to West Point from Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois.

Andy strode across the steaming pavement of West Point for the first time on 1 July 1958. Neither the blazing and humid inferno of that day nor the stem and repetitious orders of the Beast Detail could detract from the realization of Andy’s boyhood dream to attend West Point. Armed with keen mind, strong body, and magnetic personality, he went on to establish a sterling record at the Military Academy. He complemented his academic achievements by vigorous participation in the manly sports of boxing, lacrosse, soccer, and football. Active in all aspects of cadet life, he always managed to find time for the numerous friends that came to his room for wise counsel or good cheer. Andy’s selection as Commanding Officer of Company M1 came as no surprise to M1er’s, and he commanded with characteristic professionalism and “Can Do” spirit.

On 6 June 1962, immediately after receiving his coveted Army Commission, Andy headed for Chicago and a very important event. Ten days later, after a courtship of three years, Andy married the lovely Rosemary Casey. The reception that followed will long be remembered by a great percentage of Chicago’s Irish population.

Graduation Leave, Infantry Officers Basic Course, Airborne and Ranger Schools successfully completed, Andy and Rosemary went north to Alaska. Serving in several different positions at Fort Richardson, Andy acquired a wealth of experience and a deeper appreciation of his chosen Army career. Mountain training, jump status, winter exercises, long range patrols, and rescue missions offered a diversity of challenging experiences. Perhaps a portion of the citation of his first Army Commendation Medal best summarized his effectiveness as a young officer:

“…All responsibilities he served devotedly and with a competence deserving of the praise he continually received and the esteem in which he was held by superiors and subordinates.”

As the conflict in Vietnam worsened, Andy’s battalion was ordered to Hawaii for training and subsequent assignment to the small, battle tom country. The unit completed its training as scheduled and steamed to Vietnam. A glimpse of Andy’s character and feeling are evident from a letter he wrote to his mother while aboard the war bound ship: “I am happy to be going there, even though it is a hardship and a worry to you at home, but somebody must do it and my country has given me a lot, including the training and education which has made me what I am and suited for doing the job…I am not, nor will I ever be, a rich or highly successful man according to contemporary standards, but I am rich in other things. I know what duty is, and honesty with both myself and the world. I know what is right and what is wrong, and I appreciate what has been given to me. Altogether, I am a happy man.”

Deeply religious and stirringly patriotic, Andy dedicated his life to God and Country. In his brief period of service, he received the Silver Star, Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster and “v” device, Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman Badge. As Andy distinguished himself as an officer, the same could be said of him as a husband and father. His wife and sons, Doug and Casey, were his loves, and received his time and attention unreserved for military duties.

Andy made a significant contribution to the greatness of West Point and the United States Army. Had he lived his contribution would have been far greater. The impact he made on the lives of those who knew him will become more and more evident in the years to come.

Thanks, Andy, from all of us.

— Michael J. Rosenberg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s