Army PFC
St Johns, MI
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Memorial Location: 

St. Johns City Park
701 Park Street
St. Johns, MI

Died when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle while conducting combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq.

Assigned to the 9th Engineering Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

PFC Andrew Henning Nelson was born March 31, 1987, in St. Johns, Michigan. He was the first child born to Alan and Tami Nelson. Younger sisters, Jessica M. Nelson and Stephanie M. Nelson, also survive Andrew. Andrew was dedicated to God at Pilgrim United Methodist Church in St. Johns shortly after his first birthday.

Throughout his school years, Andrew was considered to be a natural born leader and to be exceptionally gifted by his teachers. He was very disciplined and responsible. Andrew was also a very good athlete. During high school he was on the swim team and was captain of the swim team during his senior year. He won numerous awards and medals for swimming.

Growing up Andrew went through phases of wanting to be a fireman, police officer, and army soldier. When the United States was attacked on 9/11, Andrew started showing a real interest in the Army. When he was 17, he signed up for the Army’s “Delayed Entry Program.” Andrew graduated from high school in June 2005 and on July 12, 2005, left for Basic Training/AIT training. During Basic Training, Andrew learned that he would be shipped to Germany and eventually to Iraq.

On Nov 5, 2005 Andrew married his high school sweetheart, Kristi Rewerts. Kristi joined Andrew in Germany in March 2006 and they enjoyed a delayed honeymoon in London and Paris. On August 31, 2006, Andrew left for Kuwait. After six weeks of training he left for Baghdad, Iraq. Andrew was assigned to Alpha Company, 9th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

On Christmas morning 2006, Kristi got the chance to web cam with Andrew for a few minutes, not knowing at the time, that it would be the last time that anyone back home would ever see Andrew or hear his voice. Andrew had volunteered to be the driver of the lead vehicle for a mission called “Dagger Iron Claw Route Clearance.” At 11:45pm Baghdad time, Christmas Day, an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle, killing Andrew and two of his fellow soldiers, SGT John Bubeck and SPC Aaron Preston instantly. One other soldier was wounded.

At a memorial service held in Iraq for the three soldiers, LT MacPhail said, “Andrew was the old school type Soldier. By that I mean that he could have assaulted the beaches of Normandy, or fought in the swamps of Vietnam, he was the same caliber of soldier as any one of the heroes from those eras. He had a drive in him that I have not seen in any other Soldier.” LT MacPhail continued, “His nick name was ‘Ranger Rick’ in the platoon. He truly lived by warrior ethos, he would never quit, or leave someone behind, and he always placed the mission first and never accepted a failure.” CPT McKenzie said, “PFC Andrew Nelson possessed a solid work ethic and unwaiverable morals. He was well liked across the company and served as a role model for his peers.”

Andrew’s Military Awards and Decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Action Badge. Andrew was one of two Soldiers of the entire Brigade that was recommended for early promotion. However, Andrew was killed two weeks prior to the time he would have received his promotion.

Although Andrew’s life was short, he touched a lot of people in both his life and his death. He will be forever missed. Andrew reached his goal of being an American Soldier and lived his dream of marrying Kristi, his high school sweetheart. Thank you Andrew for all you has done for all of us. You truly are our Hero and we are very proud of you. Never forget all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, those who have fought and those who continue to fight for our freedom.


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