Saturday, July 24, 2010

Army Pfc. Andrew L. Hand

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Andrew L. Hand, 25, of Enterprise, Ala.

Pfc. Hand was assigned to 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died July 24, 2010 in Qalat, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his military vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Staff Sgt. Conrad A. Mora, Sgt. Daniel Lim and Spc. Joseph A. Bauer.

Enterprise High football coach Kevin Collins remembers a conversation earlier this year with former Wildcat head coach Kenneth Hand about his son, Andrew.

Andrew Hand, a 2004 Enterprise High graduate and wide receiver on the football team, had already served one stint in the Army, including two terms in Iraq. Coach Hand told Collins that Andrew had put his job as an insurance salesman on hold and decided to re-enlist in the Army.

“He’s just good at being a soldier,” Hand told Collins.

There are two things about the high school football career of Andrew Hand that back his father’s assessment, according to those who coached him.

First, he volunteered for everything.

“You never had to ask him to do anything,” said Matt Rogers, an assistant coach at Enterprise. “He was always around the fieldhouse.”

Second, he was fearless.

“He was a little bit undersized, but he returned punts for us and I reckon he didn’t believe in fair-catching a punt,” Rogers said. “He had the heart of a lion.”

Pfc. Andrew Hand, 25, was on his first tour in Qalat, Afghanistan, Saturday when he was killed after an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee. Three other soldiers died in the explosion. Hand’s body was scheduled to be returned to Dover Air Force Base either late Sunday or early Monday. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Teachers, coaches and administrators described Hand as a quiet student who stayed out of trouble.

“He came by the school just to visit some people about a year ago,” assistant principal Steven Graves said. “He was a gutsy kid.”

“He was quiet and assuming, but you could see a character behind the quiet front,” said Dr. Jim Reese, superintendent of Enterprise City Schools. “He was the kind of a person you knew would represent our country well. Every time I saw him, he would speak to me and we would carry on a good conversation.”

Hand was assigned to 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. He grew up in the Brookwood area near Tuscaloosa but moved to Enterprise for high school when Kenneth Hand became head coach at Enterprise in 2001.

Hand is the second soldier from Enterprise killed in just more than a month. Spc. Brendan Neenan, 21, died June 7 from the detonation of an IED.

“Our city has lost a lot of young people,” Reese said, referring to the loss of the soldiers, eight students in a 2007 tornado that struck the high school, and others due to illness and accidents. “Any time you lose young people, it’s just devastating. It’s another example of just how fragile life is.”

Hand entered active service Nov. 15, 2005. Following his initial term of active service, he re-enlisted Oct. 17, 2008. He reported to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and was assigned to the 657th Fire Support Company, 17th Fires Brigade. The battalion deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in October of 2009.

Hand's civilian and military education includes a high school diploma, and the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) Crewmember Qualification Course.

His awards and decorations include the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, and Combat Action Badge.

Survivors include his wife, Amanda Kay Hand, Enterprise, AL; two sons, Tristan Nicholas Laine Hand and Gavin Austin Lee Hand, both of Enterprise; his parents: Kenneth and Renee Hand, Birmingham, AL and Phyllis and Jerry Parris, Birmingham, AL; one sister, Laura Hand Davis and one brother, Robert Bagwell, two nieces and one nephew, all of Birmingham, AL.

Funeral services will be at 2 pm Saturday, July 31, 2010 at Sorrells Funeral Home in Enterprise with Chaplain Sonny Moore officiating. The family will receive friends at Sorrells Funeral Home Friday, July 30 from 6 until 8 pm. The family will also receive friends at Liberty Church in Birmingham, AL Monday, August 2, 2010 from 10 until 11 am with a funeral service at 11 am at the church. Burial with full military honors will be at 2 pm at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo, AL with Sorrells Funeral Home of Enterprise directing.

Army Pfc. Andrew L. Hand was killed in action on 7/24/10.

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