Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Army Spc. Andrew P. Wade

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Andrew P. Wade, 22, of Antioch, Ill.

Spc Wade was assigned to 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died March 9, 2011 in Kunduz province, Afghanistan, as a result of a non-combat incident.

Wade joined the U.S. Army in September 2008. He was deployed with Operation Enduring Freedom in spring 2010. Wade's awards and decorations include the NATO medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Antioch GI Dies in Afghanistan --

Army Spc. Andrew Wade died half way around the world while serving in the Army before he could take his own trip around the world with his friends.

“My brother loved soccer, it was his life. His goal was to be a professional soccer player,” said his sister, Alicia Wade-Litchfield.

Andrew Wade graduated from Antioch High School in 2007. He played soccer and in 2005 his Sequoit team wrapped up their first North Suburban Conference Prairie Division crown with Wade assisting on one of two goals that sealed the victory. In 2006, he was named for All-Sectional Honors by the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association.

“For me he was great,” said Becky Dziekan, who coached Wade at Antioch his sophomore year. She is now the assistant athletic director at Zion-Benton Township High School.

“He was an outstanding player and a great kid,” she said, “We had a special relationship and I cared a lot about him.”

Wade-Litchfield said her brother was planning a trip around the world with some friends when they were all finished in the Army.

“After that trip, he talked about possibly going back to school. His family and friends were everything to him,” she said.The family was in Delaware on Thursday to meet the plane that carried his body. Funeral arrangements will not be finalized until Saturday morning.

“He had three best friends, Eric Knauff, Brandon Rojas and Tony Smerk. He also loved his niece, Veronica Mauritz, to death and he was her world,” said Wade-Litchfield, who lives in Arizona.

Wade joined the Army in September 2008, completing basic training at Fort Benning, Ga. The infantryman arrived at Fort Drum, headquarters of the 10th Mountain Division, in April 2009, then deployed with his unit in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in the spring of 2010.

Michael Nekritz, one of the superintendents at Antioch High School, remembered Wade as a jock who had a great smile.

“It’s tragic,” he said Thursday. “He had a lot of friends and he had a charismatic personality,” he said. “I remember him as a kid who always liked to smile. I’m proud of him serving his country.”

When Becky Dziekan arrived as a new coach at Antioch High School, the student she "latched on to" was then-sophomore Andrew Wade.

Many of the Sequoits athletes she coached in soccer for two years took to calling her "Mom," but Dziekan said she had a particularly strong bond with Wade, who would often visit her office during his lunch break.

"I kind of latched on to him when I was new to the school, and he latched on to me. He needed someone to help get him through school and things at that time," she said. "He was his own kind of person. He didn't live by anybody else's rules on what he should look like or act like."

Dziekan said she reacted with shock and disbelief when she learned that Wade died while serving in the Army in Afghanistan on Wednesday.

He'd been a two-year varsity soccer starter for Antioch High, athletic director Steve Schoenfelder said, and was one of the only juniors on the varsity team the team won the regional and division championships.

"In his senior year, we lost a lot of players," the athletic director said. "With him and a few players, we went right back to division championships. It really surprised a lot of people."

At one game in October of 2006, Wade sported a Mohawk haircut to a game, according to Chicago Tribune archives.

Schoenfelder described Wade as a unique person.

"He was independent in a positive way," Schoenfelder said. "He was a good kid. He wasn't in any standard mold".

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed that flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Monday in honor of Wade, according to New York news reports.

“On behalf of all New Yorkers I extend our condolences to the family, friends and fellow soldiers of Specialist Wade,” Cuomo said. “While this young soldier was not a native of New York, we consider all those stationed at Fort Drum as our own. We will grieve for his loss, and honor his memory.”

Army Spc. Andrew P. Wade was killed in a non-combat incident on 3/9/11.

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