Saturday, August 06, 2011

Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell

Remember Our Heroes

Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, Calif.

SSgt Harvell was assigned to 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, N.C.; died Aug. 6, 2011 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in which he was riding was shot down.

LONG BEACH - A former Long Beach resident and 2002 Millikan High School graduate is among the 30 Americans killed when a Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan on Saturday.

Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, was among the victims identified by the Pentagon on Thursday.

Harvell was a member of the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, an Air Force Special Operations Command unit based at Fort Bragg's Pope Field.

Harvell was a combat controller, coordinating air support with troops on the ground in hostile situations.

Harvell has a wife and two children, according to reports in North Carolina newspapers covering Fort Bragg. They resided in Southern Pines, N.C., just west of Fort Bragg. Harvell's remains arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Maryland on Tuesday.

The Press-Telegram was unable to contact Harvell's family.

Flags were to fly at half-staff today at Long Beach City Hall and above the Capitol building in Sacramento.

His mother's grief is inconsolable. His wife's sadness is so deep, she is still numb.

On Tuesday, the tragic loss of their 26-year-old "Andy" became even more painfully real. The body of Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew Harvell, killed when his Chinook Helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, came home to Los Alamitos.

A small group from his hometown of Long Beach welcomed him home. They are determined to keep his memory alive.

"He had a great personality, just like his mom," said Malissa Paige, a close family friend. "He was funny, helpful to his mom and he liked to have a good time. He loved outdoor things. He liked to play football, and they'd have parties, they'd go camping. He loved outdoor things."

He was the middle child, between older brother Sean and younger sister Analese. He joined the Air Force right out of high school, because his brother did the same. And because of 9/11.

While he was training in North Carolina, he fell in love with Krista. And now he leaves behind two children, Hunter, 3 and Ethan, just five months.

"He was respectful and funny ," said Angelita Ramirez. "He spoke to his mother everyday. He was a great Dad."

It's been a month now since the helicopter Staff Sgt. Harvell was in was brought down in Afghanistan, taking his life and those of his crew. His ultimate sacrifice is now one that his family must bear. His mom will honor a special request.

"It was her son's wishes that she should go back to North Carolina to help raise his kids," said Ramirez. "She's going to do that."

Staff Sgt. Harvell's family requested the presence of the media for his return, because they are proud of his service. His funeral will be Saturday at Forest Lawn Long Beach, with interment at the Los Angeles National Cemetery.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell was killed in action on 8/6/11.

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