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Airman's Death is Campaign's First
Air Force Sergeant Killed in Heavy Equipment Accident 

SOLON, Maine (Oct. 12) - Evander Andrews left the family farm to join the Air Force and know more of the world than this speck of a town. Today, his family and town know more of the world too - almost more than they can bear.

Master Sgt. Andrews, assigned to the 366 Civil Engineer Squadron, reportedly became the first American soldier to die in the campaign against terrorists. He was killed Wednesday in a forklift accident while building an air strip in Aludeid, somewhere in Qatar, a peninsula in the Persian Gulf.

''We're bitter that a young man like this was taken,'' said his aunt, Dassie Jackson. ''At 36, he's got his whole life ahead of him.''

Three Air Force officers and a deputy sheriff strode to the door of the family home before dawn Thursday to stir his parents, Odber and Mary. They were handed an official notice.

''It's always a tragedy when anyone dies away from home,'' said Capt. Kelley Thibodeau, a spokeswoman for Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, where Andrews had been assigned.

Andrews came of age in this central Maine town of about 1,000, a bucolic land of hills and forests now in its seasonal russet-and-gold, punctuated this fall by red-white-and-blue. At its center, it holds little more than a country store, tack shop, old hotel, gas station and cemetery.

Andrews' family still raises cattle at the farm where he grew up, on the edge of the woods. He has three sisters but became close to his dad, who also worked as a mechanic on trucks and other big equipment. Together, they fixed engines. Later, they rode motorcycles.

Andrews, a strongly built boy on the quiet side, seemed as though he might become a farmer. But he signed up for the Air Force soon after graduating from high school. ''He just wanted to see the world, see something different,'' says his aunt. Jobs were scarce locally anyway.

He met his wife, Judy, in 1990 in Missouri. She was enlisted in the Army; he, in the Air Force. She left the service, married Andrews, and together they headed for the Idaho air base. Their four children span ages 2 to 9.

''I ... accept the death of my husband in defense of our nation. He was a proud, professional career airman,'' his wife said in a statement released by family pastor Thomas Westall.

In the Air Force, Andrews operated bulldozers and the like. He felt at home around heavy equipment. He taught others, just as his father had once taught him.

His mother, a retired nurse, had felt uneasy since he shipped abroad a couple weeks ago. She and her husband are ''devastated,'' said the aunt, but finding solace in their Baptist faith.

In a town restaurant inside the country store, several people from Solon and a nearby town were comforting themselves over coffee and roast beef Thursday evening.

''We're living our lives normally. That's what the president asked us to do. But when a boy gets killed .... '' Gloria Padham's voice trailed off.

Dennis Thompson, a truck driver who used to work with Andrews' father, agrees it is a horror. But then he starts again. ''This is an awful way to put it, but if that's what it takes to straighten out this whole thing, that's what it takes.''

Even Andrews' uncle, Alfred Jackson, said his support for military action isn't wavering. ''This country has got to protect itself,'' he said, but almost in a whisper.

His wife's glare had softened to tears. She agreed, then qualified: ''reluctantly.''

Andrews' body was to be shipped to Germany, then to a military mortuary in Dover, Del. His pastor said he will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, a place of honor far from home.

The Associated Press

The Angels Will Carry You Through

When your life becomes a battle and you struggle to make sense
barely surviving one day to the next wondering where is your defense
Though you can't see them there while you do what you must do
there is someone who's on your side the Angels will carry you through

When your hearts are heavy with burdens you feel that you can't bare
when you don't feel the gentle touch of your Angels standing there
You try to meet the challenges that you face when the day is new
you may feel like you're all alone but  the Angels will carry you through

When at last you slowly begin to heal and the days don't seem long
 and you embrace each day and night with the courage to be strong
you know you'll meet again some day for God promised this is true
 the weight is gently lifting and the Angels are carrying you through

Author: Sharon Schafer
October 12, 2001
Written for the family of 
Master Sgt. Evander E.Andrews
May God bless and keep his Angels
watching over you all.

Prayer To Saint Peter

Let them in Peter 
For they are very tried 
Give them couches where the Angels sleep 
And light those fires 
Let them wake whole again 
To brand new dawns 
Fired by the sun 
Not war-times bloody guns 
May their peace be deep 
Remember where the broken bodies lie 
God knows how young they were 
To have to die 
Well God knows how young they were 
To have to die 

Give them things they like 
Let them make some noise 
Give dance hall bands not golden harps 
To these our boys 
Let them love Peter 
For they've have no time 
They should have bird songs and trees 
And hills to climb 

The taste of Summer 
and a ripened Pear 
and girls sweet as meadow wind 
and flowing hair 
and tell them how they are missed 
aut say not to fear 
it's gonna be all right 
with us down here 

Let them in Peter 
oh no they are very tried 
give them couches where the angles sleep 
and light those fires 
let them wake whole again 
to brand new dawns 
fired by the sun 
not war-times bloody guns 
may their peace be deep 
remember where the broken bodies lie 
God knows how young they were 
to have to die 

tell them how they are missed 
but say not to fear 
it's gonna be all right 
with us down here 

This song is based on a poem written by Elma Dean
Originally published by Contrails a yearbook of the 
100th Bomb Group

Lyrics and Music by John Gorka 
Sung by: Edwin McCain 

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Page created: September 12, 2001
Last updated: November 23, 2011

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