This Memorial Page Established by Jon J Shields
In Honor Of Andrew J Shields
On the morning of September 11th, 2001 my son Andrew
and I learned of the attacks on the radio as I drove him to school. It
was just 3 days after his 13th birthday. With a tear in my eye I
explained to him that we would without a doubt soon be at war. Not long
after that we began to see the images of the troops being sent of to
Afghanistan. I had served in the Army and had deployed to the Middle East in
support of Dessert Storm when Andrew was only 3. Andrew’s mother
had also served in the Army, where we met. Andrew’s Grandfather’s
had also served in the Air Force and the Navy. I don’t remember
exactly when, but shortly thereafter Andrew began to spoke of “when” he
joined the military, not “if”.
Andrew was born on 8 September 1988 at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue,
WA. When Andrew was 6 months old his mother and I moved to Vancouver,
WA. Andrew attended Kings Way Christian School until the six grade.
When Andrew was seven I married my wife Carol, Andrew’s Step-mother.
Not long after that we moved to Battle Ground, WA where Andrew started
Andrew attended Battle Ground High School. He played football for all
4 years of high school and ran track his junior year. He had his first
serious girlfriend, Alyssa his junior year. Andrew was a popular kid,
full of smiles and pranks. Many of his friends have said that they
could always count on him to listen, be a shoulder to cry on or give them
a helping hand when asked. Andrew and his best friend, Trey formed a
small group of friends who called themselves the “Thrill
Billy’s”. Andrew lived his life to the fullest.
In his senior year, Andrew truly began to grow into the man he would
soon become. Andrew joined the Clark County Fire and Rescue Cadet
program. He quickly excelled and strove to become a leader. Andrew was
appointed the Cadet Battalion Chief for the first year cadets. Andrew was
a motivator, and pushed the cadets to maximize their potential and his
own. Andrew would come home and share stories and seek guidance from
Carol and me. For the first time I knew we were talking to a young
adult as seen through the eyes of an eighteen year old.
Andrew also enjoyed shooting sports when he was introduced to
competitive pistol shooting. Andrew was given the opportunity to learn to shoot
a wide variety of weapons. When Andrew was younger we were at the
range practicing, when a local Deputy Sheriff from SWAT came to the range.
He took a liking to Andrew and allowed him to shoot his H&K MP5 fully
automatic. Years later on another trip to the range a local police
department brought their Barrett 50.Cal to the range and again offered it
to Andrew to shoot. After I too became a Deputy Sheriff Andrew became
very proficient with an AR-15 rifle. Before Andrew left for Basic
Training he could completely disassemble and reassemble the AR in only a
few seconds and shoot it expertly.
Andrew joined the Army while still a junior in high school. I remember
when he came to me to ask me to sign for him because he was still only
17. I asked only if he was sure this is what he wanted, he responded
by saying it is all he’s wanted for years. I knew it was true and he
was soon in the Army. Andrew was very proud of his decision. While
many of his friends struggled with what they were going to do after high
school, Andrew could tell them what day he was leaving, where he was
going, and what he was going to do.
Andrew chose to be an Airborne Combat Medic. I too had been a
paratrooper and a medic in the Army and later became a paramedic. Andrew had
grown-up learning of Emergency Medicine and was exposed to it during his
year as a Fire Cadet. Andrew knew that he could bring his experience
as a Combat Medic home with him and put it to good use. By this time
in Andrew’s life, I was a full time Deputy Sheriff and worked with
SWAT as a Tactical Medic. Andrew once said how cool it would be to have a
father and son medics on the team.
Andrew left for Basic Training in July 2007. He went to Ft Leonard
Wood, MO. Andrew was a squad leader during Basic and an assistant platoon
guide. I remember talking to him later. He told me of a story when
they first started rifle marksmanship. The first time he disassembled
his M-16 it was missing the extractor pin. He said that he told the
Drill Sergeant, who was impressed that he recognized it was missing, but
even more that he knew what it was and what it did.
Carol and I travelled to St. Louis to watch his graduation. Andrew was
so proud. The day before graduation was family day and Andrew was
allowed to spend the day with us. When we asked what he wanted to do,
Andrew said that he wanted to get some steaks, a couple of movies and go
back to the condo. He wanted to have a family dinner, relax in normal
clothes and watch a movie. The next day he graduated and was sent to
Ft. Sam Houston, TX for Medic Training.
Andrew was with the 232nd Medical Company at Ft. Sam Houston for AIT.
Andrew loved his medic training. He worked very hard at mastering his
skills, knowing that one day they may be needed to save another
soldier’s life. At Ft. Sam, Andrew began to make the bonds of friendship
found only in military service. While there he met Corey Fowler who
became his closest friend, and another Combat Medic with whom Andrew would
fall in love and decide to marry, Loren Combs.
After graduating AIT, Andrew, Loren and Corey were all sent to Ft.
Benning, GA for Airborne training. In March 2007 Andrew attended Basic
Airborne School. He was thrilled when he learned that not only was he in
the same company as I was 23 years earlier, but he was even in the same
barracks! I flew to Columbus, GA to see him graduate. When I arrived
he hugged me and handed to me a challenge coin; explaining to me that
it had made all five jumps with him. I too was thrilled; I have never
been without it since. I remember that evening we went out to dinner
at a nice steakhouse. It was then that I met both Corey and Loren.
During graduation Andrew was called out of formation with a few others.
Since Andrew was a second generation graduate, I was given the honor of
pinning his wings on.
By that time, Andrew already knew he was assigned to the 173rd Airborne
Brigade in Germany. He was told that the 173rd was already deployed
to Afghanistan and that he would meet them there after a short stop in
Germany. But before that, Andrew was given 2 weeks of leave and came
home. While at home he spent every minute visiting his friends, teachers
and his 10 year old sister. Andrew even made time to go to his
sister’s 5th grade class and tell them about his experiences and where he
was going. Andrew stopped by Battle Ground HS to visit the teacher’s
that inspired him. While there, Andrew made one of his classic
statements. Andrew said, “Stay focused, know what you want to do with your
life and make your dreams come true”. On April 14th 2007 I took
Andrew to the airport for his flight to Atlanta, then on to Germany.
Andrew spent only a few weeks in Germany before heading “down
range” to Afghanistan. Andrew would call and tell me what he was doing and
he was very proud to be a member of such a distinguished unit. He
prayed that he would be able to live up to their expectation and strove
very hard every day to excel. Andrew was assigned to the 173rd Special
Troop Battalion and an MP Company. Andrew sent an e-mail on how excited
he was to be a medic for the MPs and a quick reaction force called
“CHAOS”; just like his father, a medic for the SWAT Team.
I would like to share the words of his commanding officer, Captain
Gavin. He said of Andrew:
“Private Shields was one of the few Soldiers newer to the HHC family
than me. I remember when he arrived, just three short weeks ago, a
tall, lanky, and proud young medic. My first memory of Shields was when I
went down to the range on morning to fire my pistol – The MPs were
down there qualifying their new soldiers. As I was waiting my turn,
talking with a few of the guys hanging out behind the firing line, one of
the coached came back amazed – this new private had shot groups that
you could cover with a pencil eraser. A couple of days later, I was
still adjusting to all the trees and plants here at the PRT and asked the
MPs to send a medic with some allergy meds. Within minutes Shields
was standing at my desk – asking the right questions and came back with
the appropriate medicine. As he walked out, I said ‘thanks’ and he
replied ‘no problem sir, just let me know if they work and when you
need more…’ My last memory of Shields was at the company physical
fitness test !
about a week ago. As the run started, Shields pulled to the front of
the pack and never looked back. As he crossed the line with a stellar
time on this unimproved course, I knew that when it came time for me to
run, all I’d need to do is keep him within sight and I’d max it
Captain Ed Gavin, Commanding Officer
HHC 173rd Airborne Brigade
On Friday, May 30th I spoke with Andrew on the phone, as I did almost
every other day. He told me of his upcoming missions. That he would be
gone for several days. Working “outside the wire”, Andrew was
headed out to teach Combat Lifesaver Skills to members of the Afghan
police. We talked for over an hour. He told me about living conditions, we
talked about his upcoming marriage and began to make plans to get his
Jeep shipped to him in Germany. We laughed and joked together. Before
Andrew hung-up we ended our call as we did every time we spoke… I
told him I loved him, and that I was proud of him.
Andrew was killed on May 31st, 2008 in Jalalabad Afghanistan. He was a
passenger in the third HUMVEE of a convoy. A vehicle borne IED
swerved into their vehicle and exploded. Andrew was killed instantly.
Another soldier, Specialist Matthew Finley was also killed. Two other
soldiers in the HUMVEE were critically injured when they were thrown from
the vehicle. They survived the attack and are recuperating from their
Andrew returned home on June 6th. His Memorial Service was the next
day on Saturday, June 7th 2008. Over 1000 people came to honor my son.
Andrew posted on his MySpace Website that I was his hero and that he
hoped to be half the man I was. My son has become my hero and not a day
goes by that I won’t think of him and honor his sacrifice.
Photos of Andrew’s Homecoming and Memorial can me seen here:
The Story of Combat Gumby
In several photos of Andrew, he can be seen holding a small green
Gumby. That is Combat Gumby. When Andrew was 2 ½ years old, I deployed to
the Middle East for Operation Desert Storm. I didn’t have the
opportunity to call home as often as I wanted. Andrew, not wanting me to be
lonely, asked his mother to send me his Gumby to keep me company. Of
course, when I returned home, as many soldiers do, I boxed up all of my
stuff and placed them in the attic.
Years later Andrew wanted to do a history project on the Gulf War. I
then retrieved the box from the attic and shared its contents with
Andrew. In it, we found Combat Gumby and I reminded Andrew of the story on
how I got Gumby. Andrew was never without Gumby after that. For years
he promised that he would take Gumby with him when he went to war.
Gumby went off to Basic Training, attended Medic School with Andrew and
I’m sure jumped out of a plane, or two.
Gumby then deployed to Afghanistan with Andrew. Gumby can be seen in
many pictures with Andrew in and around his FOB. After Andrew was
killed, his belongings were shipped home. But as we inventoried all of the
items returned, Gumby was no where to be found. I’m sure that Gumby
was with Andrew that day, and like Andrew, Gumby didn’t come home.
May 31, 2017
SSG Bradley Rentz
Rest in peace brother. As today started, even before today, I was and am thinking of you and
SPC Finley. Its been nine years since that day in Afghanistan and not a day goes by that I,
amongst others have you and your families in our thoughts. Rest in Peace brother.
September 5, 2011
SGT Michael, Jeff
My deepest condolences to the family and friends of PFC Shields. I served in the 173rd with
Andrew but unfortunately never had the chance to meet him. I was a fellow medic in his
section and heard of the arrival of the new DOC. Once we redeployed back to Germany I was
to be one of PFC Shields NCOs. I looked forward to meeting our new combat medic on our
crew that day. As my convoy neared the PRT we heard the blast and responded immediately.
Terror coursed through my body as I neared the vehicle and saw the aid bag on the ground.
Unfortunately there was nothing I could do. That moment still haunts me to this day. I didn’t
learn until later that one of the two Soldiers I assessed was one of my new privates. I
immediately wept. It has taken me a few years to cope with moments like that and build up
the courage to reach out to the family and friends and express my feelings with them. I grieve
everyday for the loss of PFC Shields along with countless o!
thers we lost during that deployment. My deepest apologies and condolences. PFC Shields
has not and will not be forgotten. His sacrifice was not in vain. The Soldiers of the 173rd STB
Medical Platoon still speak highly of him today as we all keep in touch. PFC Shields was part
of our family and always will be.
June 02, 2010
Maj Scott Carbaugh, USAF
Mr. and Mrs. Shields
I was the Medical officer in charge of what is now know as FOB Finley-Shields 2008.
Although I am Air Force, I was essentially loan to the Army for the mission in Jalalabad. I,
along with my senior medics, had the pleasure of training your son while we were out there -
indoctrinating him to life in Afghanistan. I can honestly say that we were all impressed with
his natural abilities - as a medic, as a soldier and certainly as an athlete. He was a gifted
young man who certainly was not lacking in confidence. We were all genuinely impressed by
his confidence and potential. I am originally from Portland - so I had a good time giving him a
friendly hard time about being from the "sticks." He would brag about the wrestling team (I
believe he was a pretty good wrestler) - I would then bring him back down to earth when I
reminded him of Battle Ground's football program. He would just grin, look down and say
"yes Sir, I can't argue with that...."
I had just returned from a long, hot foot patrol in a local village when I heard the explosion
and felt the building rock. I'll never forget that day. I worked on the other guys until the
MEDEVAC arrived. I have to say I was in shock when I hear who the others were - your son
and Finley. It was surreal.
I would just like to say that, though I'm so sorry for your loss, I am so very proud of your
son's service - what he gave to and for his country. I can honestly say that he was among
the sharpest, brightest and most dedicated young soldiers out there. Troops like Andrew
rejuvenated my faith in the future of the Armed Services. There were days I'd honestly have
my doubts, but soldiers such as Andrew kept my faith alive - I mean that from the bottom of
my heart. I have sons that are a just a couple of years younger than Andrew - I truly hope
they can one day display his patriotism, sense of duty to a higher calling and bravery.
My prayers have been with your family and Andrew every day since 31 May 2008 - and
always will be. Although the time I knew him was very brief, I feel honored to have served
with your son.
SCOTT L. CARBAUGH, USAF, Maj, BSC
April 25, 2010
My thoughts are with your family everyday.. Corey is being watched and taken care of by you
everyday. Thank you.
November 01, 2009
We are eternally grateful for your service..
Sept 24, 2009
We will never forget. Thank you and may you rest in peace. And thank you Jon, for your
service, and for raising such a wonderful son.
July 06, 2009
In Honor Of Andrew Shields
I have only just become aware of Andrew and his story after meeting his dad this last
weekend at the Washington State "Wheelers for the Wounded" event, honoring wounded
veterans. Reading the tributes of his friends, acquaintances, and family - it is obvious that we
lost an outstanding young man. It troubles me that so many superlative troops are taken
from us far too soon. I am comforted that we live in a country where these young men and
women still feel the desire, duty and honor to extend themselves in service to high ideals, in
the goal that they can help others and ultimately assist in improving the state of the world.
There were donations made towards the WFTW event in excess of event costs. These
additional funds will go to Fisher House - an organization that assists wounded veterans and
their families with low or no cost housing in the event of needing extended medical care at a
military medical center away from home. As I said to Andrew's father, Jon - we will make this
donation dedicated to the memory of Andrew's service, sacrifice, and most of all - the life he
June 01, 2009
In Honor Of Pfc. Andrew J. Shields
Dec 19, 2008
Dear Family of Pfc. Andrew Shields,
I would like to express my sympathy upon the death of your precious son. I just read the
story of "Combat Gumby" and I was deeply moved by it. I know that your son was a hero
because I live the loss of a son just as you do. My beloved son, Cpl. Steven P. Gill, USMC
was killed by an IED in Zaidon , Iraq on 21 July 05. Please know that I will never forget the
sacrifice your son made, nor the sacrifice your family made so that we may enjoy freedom.
May God hold you close. Sincerely, Gold Star Mom, Rose Camero-Gill
Sept 18, 2008
SFC Rod Brewer
Private First Class Andrew J. Shields. STB, 173rd
Airborne Brigade, Killed in Action in Afghanistan on May, 31, 2008. My
sincere condolences to his father, Jon. Jon thank you for the beautiful
story of a remarkable young man. You have every right to be proud.
Airborne!!! My condolences to his step-mother Carol, and to Loren... Gumby
is up there with him watching over you all... Andy, You Will Never Be
Christmas in Arlington..
Rest easy, sleep well my brother, Andy.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell..
SFC Rod Standing in Honor and Respect..
Jon feel free to contact me anytime.. Rod.
|Pfc. Andrew J. Shields
United States Army
KIA 31 May 2008, Afghanistan
|Graduation Day 2007
|With Dad- BTC Family Day
|Andrew Receiving BTC
|Andrew with Loren
|Andrew and Recruiter
|Pfc. Andrew J. Shields