Aug. 10–Tragedy has once again struck a Bristol, R.I., couple, whose eldest child, a decorated U.S. Army Green Beret killed Friday in combat in Afghanistan, became the second son they’ve lost in the past decade.
Master Sgt. Peter Andrew Jr., 35, a career soldier serving in Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Kabul as part of the global war on terrorism, died from injuries he suffered when the NATO facility he was at was attacked by enemy small-arms gunfire, the Department of Defense announced yesterday.
Sgt. was home last month in his close-knit community of 23,000 for the first time in nearly a year. Clad in sunglasses and a pair of Stars and Stripes shorts, he was feted at the historic Bristol Fourth of July Celebration for having been the person who traveled the farthest to take part in the festivities.
“It was quite a statement having patriotic shorts on, but it was quite appropriate for the occasion. I shook his hand and I said, ‘Congratulations, I wish you the best, stay safe,’ ” Bristol Town Administrator Antonio “Tony” Teixeira, a longtime family friend, told the Herald. “He was very touched by the whole situation, obviously, and so were we.”
Sgt. parents, Carol and Peter , who Teixeira said have left the state to identify their boy’s remains, “were very emotional” to see him honored on Independence Day. He said their only other child, Patrick , was 21 when he died Aug. 3, 2005, after the motorcycle he was riding was hit by a car.
“It’s awful,” Teixeira said, adding the parents “have a lot of faith” that kept them going when Patrick died.
“He will always be one of our heroes,” Teixeira said of Sgt. . “He certainly represented all that we want of young folks nowadays.”
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, who presented the soldier an American flag at the town’s Fourth of July festivities, tweeted that he was “a truly great citizen, soldier, person & patriot.”
U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said Sgt. had 17 years invested in the military, including five tours in Afghanistan and one inIraq. “Sgt. embodied all of the best values of our state,” Cicilline said in a statement.
Defense officials said Sgt. was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He was also a graduate of Mount Hope High School in Bristol and Norwich University. Sgt. had been the recipient of the Bronze Star for heroism in combat, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.
Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who grew up with Sgt. , said, “I think the memory that will stick with me the most is the last time I saw him. … He just seemed very happy to be surrounded by his family and friends.”
By Laurel J. Sweet, Erin Smith, Boston Herald