Veteran of the Day graphic by Kimber Garland.
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran William Francis Andrews. William served from 1980-2010 and took part in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and the War in Afghanistan.
Driven by a passion for flight, William applied and was accepted to the Air Force Academy, where he received a four-year college education and pilot training.
William experienced combat for the first time during the Persian Gulf War, where he was tasked with leading a squadron of F-16s to strike Iraqi targets throughout Operation Desert Storm. During the heaviest aerial bombardment, William and his team flew multiple missions a day for thirteen days straight.
On one mission, William and his squadron were called to provide close air support for U.S. Special Forces, who had been pinned down behind enemy lines. As a result of their precision, William and his team were able to successfully drop cluster bombs against targets within 100 yards of the U.S. forces, saving the lives of eight U.S. soldiers.
On Feb. 27. 1991, one day before the end of the Gulf War, William’s F-16 was struck by an Iraqi surface to air missile while engaging retreating Iraqi forces. As a result, William was forced to eject over the battlefield, landing in the middle of a Republican Guard Battalion. Despite being at enemy gunpoint and having broken his leg, William grabbed his radio and ordered his squad to take evasive measures, saving them from being struck as well.
After being taken prisoner by Iraqi forces, William was transported around Kuwait and Iraq and narrowly avoided being hit by U.S. bombs. After eight days in captivity, William was returned to the U.S. where he received treatment for his injuries.
Undeterred by his capture, William returned to flying as quickly as he was allowed and again flew combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the war in Afghanistan. William ended his career serving on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon and retired as a colonel in 2010. After retiring, William became a professor at the National Defense University.
During his service, William earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, a V for Valor, a Purple Heart, a POW Medal, and the Air Force Cross for heroism.
William passed away from brain cancer in 2015, at the age of 56.
We honor your service, William.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Graphic designer: Kimber Garland
Fact checker: Arianna Babraj
Editor: Jenna Robles