Technical note: I have just learned that some of these pages do not display photos for some browsers. I will fix that at a later time. All page work with Internet Explorer.
When a warrior dies leaving a wife and children, our natural reaction is concern for their future. The sadness of his death is compounded by their dependency on him. But when a warrior dies having never married and never fathered, hasn’t he offered even more? He has lost the possibility of a wife and children.
Andrew Wade was born in Fort Hood. He entered the United States Army a year after Antioch High School, a fifth-generation soldier. He died in Afghanistan at 22 leaving parents, three siblings, two nieces and two nephews. His parents have issued a statement:
Nothing compares to what our family is experiencing at this time, with the loss of Andrew. He was devoted to his friends, family and above all, his country.
Andrew joined the Army about a year after he graduated from high school and he was proud of his service in the Army and his commitment to his fellow brothers and sisters in uniform. That service and commitment made us extremely proud of the man Andrew became. He truly is our hero and we will always cherish each moment we have had with him in the last 22 years.
Although we appreciate everyone's prayers and support, there have been other Soldiers killed or injured while in combat, and we ask for you to think of them and support their families, along with Andrew, at this time. We thank you for your support during this difficult time and ask the media to respect our wishes to not be interviewed.
Andrew’s loving wife and strong, fine children will never exist. And Andrew’s parents will never be grandparents by him. Thank you, Douglas and Elizabeth, for the selfless sacrifice of your son. As God gave his son, many of us realize our debt to both Jesus and Andrew.
We have been invited to stand for Andrew. He returns Tuesday; the visitation is Saturday and Sunday; the funeral mass is Monday. Indeed, his obituary invites donations in Andrew’s memory to be made to the Patriot Guard Riders. This page will be updated over the next week as events in Antioch unfold.
Airport escorts are always short-notice. I received an email at 4:30 pm on Monday that said we should go to the airport at 8:30 am Tuesday. That was enough notice for 40 PGRiders.
No time for a briefing – we had to move quickly to be in place before the family arrived.
Then we were briefed.
The family was settled in the waiting room and we had formed in the hanger. Because the casket had not yet arrived, the honor guard had no casket to practice with. So they practiced without one.
The small plane carries the casket, two pilots and the military escort. On a Tuesday morning at 09:25:15 CDT, Andrew’s wheels kissed an Illinois tarmac.
After the transfer and after the family left, we left the hanger and then we left the airport.
H.R. McCall elementary School is near the airport, so we passed it at the beginning of our 16 mile journey to Andrew’s home town. PK-5 means the students are ages 4 through 10 years. They were all standing quietly at the curb as we rolled by.
We headed west. I tried to take pictures of the bikes behind me by shooting blindly over my shoulder. We passed a Gold Star mom holding a flag. And a small plane trailing smoke honored Andrew’s procession with a low-level fly-over.
At the end of our 16 miles we passed Andrew’s high school. He graduated 4 years earlier, so few of the current students knew him, but they were all curb-side, had over heart.
The plane making smoke passed overhead once more. Our third and final flagline of this sad day would witness the transfer from hearse to funeral home. We will return to the funeral home this weekend for the visitation. A large number of guests is expected, so we will stand for six hours Saturday and fine hours Sunday.
And then Monday we will stand at the Catholic church and the cemetery.
This day was the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. It is the first of two days visitation for Andrew. And it is the first day of our military engagement in Libya. Pack 42 Cub Scouts were standing in our flagline in the early afternoon.
Also early-afternoon we fired more than 100 cruise missiles into Libya targeting early warning radar and communications facilities and air defense sites. Drudge ran the headline for the rest of the day: War No. 3.
Drudge followed his headline with two quotations:
MARCH 19, 2011
OBAMA: 'Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world'...
MARCH 19, 2003
BUSH: 'American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger'...
The world continues to be a dangerous place. As Lake Bluff Cub Scouts stood outside the funeral home that held Andrew’s remains, Secretary of State Clinton was saying, “America has unique capabilities and we will bring them" to help enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973.
Andrew was part of those unique capabilities. The Mayor of Antioch, Lawrence M. Hanson visited. The State Representative for the Antioch area, JoAnn D. Osmond visited.
Then Pack 42 was relieved by Pack 190. The Governor of Illinois went inside to formally mourn an Illinois hero and then he came outside to congratulate the scouts, commenting that he was a Cub Scout too.
Many other things happened in that parking lot today. I will write about them later, and post other photos. Tomorrow is the second day of visitation, and Monday is the funeral and interment. There will be time for writing later. Now is the time for Andrew.
The Cubs did important work today. The Patriot Guard mission is to show respect for Andrew. That is done one way when adults are standing with flags. It is done another way when Cub Scouts are standing with flags. They both have great impact.
But the adults knew what they were doing before they did it. I think the Cub Scouts got as much as they gave.
Andrew was part of the Scout Platoon. I asked if there is one platoon in each company so designated. No. There is only one Scout Platoon in the whole battalion.
The 10th Mountain Division is a light infantry outfit. Take any one soldier from the 10th and give him a rifle, cartridges for his rifle, and a few MREs and you have a complete fighting unit. Traditionally light infantry provides a skirmish screen ahead of the main body of infantry, the calvary and the armor.
And the Scout Platoons move at the head of the 10th.
The United States Army has giant machines and potent explosives but the essence of the army is the flesh and brains of capable individual patriots who put themselves in front of those machines and explosives. And still we expect them to use their rifles aggressively. They must overcome exhaustion and confusion to accomplish their mission in the noise and the dirt and the danger. Danger everywhere. We hope they will stay safe.
But staying safe is not the point. The mission is the point.
Two things will always be true: (1) We want our army to be powerful. We want an irresistibly lethal potential as the last resort of our Foreign Policy. And (2) the flesh of individual soldiers, like that of the Scout Platoon, will always be the spear’s tip of that magnificent, fearsome army.
And so they must train and train. Training helps, but training is no guarantee. Soldiers survive their dangerous work only by the grace of God. Andrew’s death can be blamed only on the enemy.
Andrew was one of our best soldiers. It is a sad reality that we put our very best soldiers at the spear’s tip.
This page is not yet finished.
Andrew’s page will be supplemented with additional comment and photography.
back to ALL MISSIONS
On April 15th in a Lake Bluff church basement, the PGR recognized a few of those Cub Scouts.