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Andrew Franklin Clements
Major, United States Army
Pennsylvania State Flag
Major Andrew Franklin Clements, U.S. Army, 35, died Sunday, May 26, 2002, in Webber Falls, Oklahoma.

He was born in York, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Stuttgart American High School, Germany in 1985. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1985 and was later commissioned from the United States Military Academy, West Point, into the field artillery in 1991. In 2002, he received a master's degree of science in management, graduating with distinction.

He was en route to his new assignment in Alexandria when he died. His military assignments include Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Germany; and Monterey, California.

He is survived by his wife, Nicole S. Clements; two daughters, Alexandra Galbraith and Christina Clements; two sons, Michael Clements and Andrew Clements; his mother, Sandra Lambson; his father, Ronald Clements; one sister, Ronda Crowell; and one brother, Ronald Blood Jr.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 4, 2002 at Mountcastle Funeral Home, 4143 Dale Blvd., Dale City. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 5, 2002 at Fort Myer Memorial Chapel, Arlington. Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery.

AF Clements PHOTO
Major Clements As A Cadet
United States Military Academy


Monterey Herald
Tuesday, May. 28, 2002

Local army captain dies in Oklahoma bridge collapse

One of the 13 people killed in Sunday's Oklahoma bridge collapse was an Army Captain and father of four who had recently graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. Andrew Clements, 34, had finished packing up his Seaside home and was on his way to join his family and start a new job assignment in Virginia. 

Clements was caught on an Interstate 40 bridge in Webbers Falls on Sunday when out-of-control barge hit a bridge piling, causing a 500-foot span to collapse into the murky Arkansas River.

Nearly a dozen cars plunged into the river. Among the dead motorists were Clements, who was to have been promoted to Major next week, and the family's German shepherd "Ostar." The family's new silver Honda Odyssey van was crushed and rendered nearly unrecognizable by the crash. The dog's travel carrier was perched atop remnants of the van, giving Clements' wife, Nicole, the first clue that her husband had been involved, family members told a hometown newspaper.

"I know he was looking forward to being in Virginia. They had just bought a new house. I know they were excited about their new life," said Jennifer Hall, an Ord Military Community neighbor whose son was a playmate of Clements' 4-year-old son, Michael. She had the family over for a goodbye dinner a week before the accident.

 "This is shocking. It makes you realize that it could happen to anyone at anytime," said Hall, whose eyes welled with tears upon hearing of Clements' death.

Clements and his wife also have a 2-month-old son, Andrew, and two daughters, Christina, 2, and Alexandra Galbraith, 9.

The Clements family cleared out their spacious, one-story home with hardwood floors in the quiet military neighborhood last week. Clements pulled his step-daughter Alexandra out of school May 13 in preparation for the move back East.

Alexandra had said goodbye to her third-grade classmates at Marshall Elementary School in Seaside, where 85 percent of the student body are military dependents.

Word of the family's tragedy broke slowly at the school. The first tentative word came this morning when one of the office workers heard a partial listing of the bridge-collapse victims.

"She said, 'Andrew Clements, that sounds familiar. Isn't that Alexandra's dad?'" Marshall Principal Steve Rosson recounted later in the day, choking up. When it was confirmed, the news hit the school hard, Rosson said

"He was the one in the family who came to all the parent conferences. He was a very nice man and Alexandra is a great little girl."

Clements, a 1991 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, had completed a two-year course, earning a master's degree in management at the Naval Postgraduate School, school officials confirmed today. Clements had orders to begin work next month at the U.S. Army Testing and Evaluations Command Center in Alexandria, Virginia, saidArmy spokeswoman Martha Rudd.

His father, Ronald Clements, told the York (Pennsylvania) Daily Record that he was a buyer of military supplies. Clements lived with his father in York for nearly four years while growing up and spent most of his years with his mother and step-father - who was also in the military - in Germany and Puerto Rico.

"What were the odds of something like that happening?" Ronald Clements said of the accident in an interview today with the newspaper. 

The week before his unexpected death was a busy one for Clements. He was overseeing the movers, making his family's travel arrangements and had just bought a two-story, custom-built home one hour south of Alexandria.

Clements flew his family to Pennsylvania, where the family's other car, a silver BMW, was waiting at his father's Dover Township home. He flew back to California the same day - on Friday - to pick up the van and the dog. He immediately set out on a cross-country trip to join his family and called his wife on Friday and Saturday. She never heard from him on Sunday.

The first indication the family had of Clement's death was a Sunday night call from Oklahoma state troopers to his father, saying that his son's briefcase, a laptop computer and his new military orders had been found in the water.

Clements' neighbors here found out the sad news today.

The last time his neighbor Tony Thompson saw him was a day or two before Clements left town with his family. Clements came over to borrow a broom and to say goodbye, Thompson said.

"Andrew was, in simple laymen's terms, a good guy, a family man, who was the type of person to help you even if he didn't know you," said Thompson, who lived next door and who would often see Clements jogging with the family dog. "He stayed close to home, he was just a good family man. It's very sad, it makes you think of all the things you take for granted, especially life itself," he said. "You never know when it's your time."


May 30, 2002
Area man killed in Oklahoma bridge collapse

Divers earlier this week pulled the body of U.S. Army Captain Andrew F. Clements of Woodbridge from the murky Arkansas River where he plunged to his death after an out-of-control barge hit the Interstate 40 bridge on Sunday and knocked out a 500-foot section of highway in Webbers Falls, Oklahoma.

The body of Clements, who was found in his car, is one of 14 recovered from the site of the accident, which sent about a dozen vehicles plunging 62 feet into the river. Authorities called off the search Wednesday after finding the body of a 3-year-old girl floating a half-mile downstream.

''They have exhausted every hot spot,'' said Lieutenant Brandon Kopepasah of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Clements, 34, is survived by his wife, Nicole, and four children, Alexandra, 9, Michael, 4, Christina, 2, and Andrew David, 9 weeks.

The West Point graduate and field artillery officer was on his way back east after finishing post-graduate work in Monterey, California, said Martha Redd, a spokeswoman for the Army. Clements, who was studying business and public
policy, had picked up his German shepherd and cat and was making his way to Alexandria, where he and his family were set to move into a new home.

By Sunday morning, he was crossing the I-40 bridge when the barge hit.

''What were the odds of something like that happening?'' asked Ronald Clements, his father.

Police needed dental records to confirm Clements' identity, but photos of the crushed car had already provided the answer: There was a dog cage in the back seat.

Crews using sonar and a large crane have pulled 10 vehicles from the water. Authorities believe more victims will be found.

Nicole Clements would not comment Wednesday, but Phil Washburn, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Testing and Evaluating Command Center (ATEC), the agency Clements was set to join upon his return, released a statement on behalf of the family.

"The Army and the nation have lost a fine soldier in a tragic accident," said ATEC Commander Major General  John J. Marcelloin the statement. "Captain Clements had a great military record and we were all looking forward to him becoming a part of the ATEC team. At this time, our concern is for his family and many friends, and I offer my heartfelt condolences on behalf of all of ATEC."

Clements had been approved for promotion to the rank of Major and the promotion was scheduled to take effect next week.

He was born in York County, Pennsylvnaia.


The Oklahoman
May 30, 2002

No one knows what U.S. Army Captain Andrew Clements was thinking as he tried to cross the Webbers Falls bridge on that fateful Memorial Day weekend.

Perhaps he recalled the advanced training course he took at Fort Sill shortly after graduating from the West Point Academy in 1991. Perhaps his thoughts drifted to his new promotion to Major, due this week, or his newly acquired master's degree in systems acquisitions from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Being a family man, he must have thought of his wife and four children, who were waiting for his Monday arrival in Woodbridge, Virginia, where they would live while he worked for the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command in Alexandria, Virginia.

Or perhaps he was just calming his German Shepherd, Asta, and cat, Tasha, as they rode with him on his cross-country trek.

Like the others who suddenly fell to their deaths Sunday, Clements surely didn't see the bridge collapse in time to stop.

Clements, 34, was the first to be identified as one of at least 14 victims. Unlike the others, who died of drowning, officials said he died from blunt head trauma.

"The Army and the nation have lost a fine soldier in a tragic accident," said Major General John J. Marcello, commander of  the test and evaluation command. "Captain Clements had a great military record and we were all looking forward to him becoming part of the ATEC team. At this time, our concern is for his family and many friends, and I offer my heartfelt condolences."

Army Major Darryl Stephens of the Pentagon pondered the odds of making a 2,929-mile drive and landing on a 500-foot stretch of bridge that, in the most bizarre of accidents, plummeted precisely as he crossed it.

"If you just stopped at a rest stop or stopped to get gas," Stephens said. "There's just so many variables -- and the timing."

He also noted the similarities between them. Both were Captains about to be promoted to Majors. Both were field artillery officers who trained in Fort Sill.

Most of all, Stephens thought of Clements' family. Among his four children was a 9-week-old son named Andrew.

"It's just a very, very sad thing," Stephens said. "His family, I know they have to be devastated. There's a spouse out there who doesn't have a husband, and children who don't have a father."

Clements had flown May 23 with his wife, Nicole, and their four children to Woodbridge. He flew back to Monterey to gather their dog and cat and other belongings. His plan was to drive cross-country and arrive Monday in Woodbridge.


Oklahoma bridge collapse kills Dover Township native

Andrew Clements was en route to move his family to Virginia when he died in the collapse Sunday.

The last time Ronald Clements saw his son alive, neither had much time to talk because Andrew had a plane to catch in a few hours. He was bound for California and stayed at his father's house in Dover Township only a few minutes Friday morning before heading to a hotel to grab a few hours sleep.

He landed in California at 12:30 p.m. A few hours later, he picked up his German Shepherd, Ostar, at a kennel and aimed his Honda Odyssey east to cross the country again - this time to start a new life near Alexandria, Virginia.

By Sunday morning, he was on Interstate 40 near the eastern edge of Oklahoma when a barge slammed into the bridge he was driving on. The bridge collapsed, and he fell 62 feet into the Arkansas River and died. About a dozen vehicles fell in with people trapped inside. Thirteen deaths have been confirmed.

"What were the odds of something like that happening?" his father asked during an interview at his house Tuesday. Andrew Clements spent his first four years living in York Township. But he mostly lived with Ronald Clements' ex-wife, who was married to a military man and lived in a lot of places, including Germany and Puerto Rico.

Andrew's wife, Nicole, and their three kids didn't fly to California because the plan was for all five of them to meet in Virginia to close a deal on a new two-story house. The only reason they stopped by Ronald Clements' house Friday morning was to pick up a car her husband had shipped there and for her to use.

 Every moving detail had been taken care of, Ronald Clements said. His son had even booked his hotel stops for Motel 6 because only it allowed pets. He called his wife Friday and Saturday to say everything was fine.

When Nicole didn't hear from him by Sunday evening, she called Ronald Clements. She heard about the bridge collapsing and knew her husband was taking that route.

Ronald Clements said he was watching a NASCAR race that day, was entertaining house guests and didn't think much about the bridge. If anything, he figured his son had been caught up trying to find a new route around the fallen bridge.

Good things had been happening to Andrew Clements, especially lately.

In Virginia, he would be buying military supplies at the U.S. Army Testing and Evaluating Command Center and taking on a more civilian-like lifestyle. It meant an end to moving spot to spot, from Oklahoma to Germany to California and now to Virginia.

A 1991 graduate of West Point, Andrew Clements has planned to be a career military man. In March, he received his master's degree in business, creating more avenues for himself. Next week, the captain would have been officially promoted to Major, Ronald Clements said.

And the bigger house couldn't have come at a better time, because Nicole and Andrew Clements recently had a third child, 8-week-old Andrew. The others are Christina, 2, and Michael, 4.

"I would have wanted to see him more," Ronald Clements said of his son. "But we did the best that we could. We both understood that."

Ronald eventually married Doris, who saw Andrew Clements grow up. She said she's been thinking about his brief visit Friday morning.

"He said, 'I'll see you in two weeks,' " she said.

Then the two hugged, and he was gone.

Disbelief is what Ronald Clements is feeling, he said. An Oklahoma State Trooper called the family at 11:45 p.m. Sunday night, saying they had found Andrew Clements' briefcase, lap top and orders to report to Alexandria.

"They said they didn't have a body," he said. "But I think they had it. They just couldn't identify it." Dental recordseventually confirmed his son's identity.

Nicole knew it was him because photos of his mashed Odyssey appeared on television. The car was hardly recognizable, Ronald Clements said, but a dog cage in the backseat gave it away.


ATEC officer dies in Oklahoma bridge accident

Major Andrew F. Clements, 35, was killed May 26 on the way to his new assignment with the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command when his vehicle plunged off an I-40 Oklahoma bridge that had apparently been struck by a river barge. He was being assigned to the Army Evaluation Center Fire Support Evaluation Directorate.

"The Army and the nation have lost a fine soldier in a tragic accident," ATEC Commander Major General John J. Marcello said this afternoon. " Major Clements had a great military record and we were all looking forward to him becoming a part of the ATEC team. At this time our concern is for his family and many friends, and I offer my heartfelt condolences on behalf of all of ATEC."

He had just received his Master's of Science degree, with distinction, in Systems Acquisition Management from the Naval Post Graduate School at Monterey, California.

On May 23, he flew with his family to Woodbridge and then returned to California to retrieve the family dog and cat, along with some of the family belongings.

Major Clements is survived by his wife, four children, ages 9, 4, 2, and nine weeks; his mother and father; one brother;  and a sister.


Message From Class President Scott Clemenson
May 31, 2002
Dear Classmates,

I spoke to Nicole Clements earlier today and expressed condolescences and sympathy on behalf of the USMA Class of 1991 to her and her four children, Alexandra, 9, Michael, 4, Christina, 2, and Andrew David, 9 weeks.

The Memorial Service will be held this Wednesday, June 5 at 1100 hrs at the Ft Myer Memorial Chapel. There will not be a burial service as Andy will be cremated. Please attend the Memorial Service if you are able to and pass the word to other classmates and grads as well.

Nicole and her family are staying with Andy's sister in Woodbridge, Virginia.

Cards or letters can be sent to Nicole at the following address:

Nichole Clements
15767 Silent Tree Place
Woodbridge, Virginia 22191


CLEMENTS, ANDREW F
MAJ   US ARMY
PERSIAN GULF
DATE OF BIRTH: 04/07/1967
DATE OF DEATH: 05/26/2002
BURIED AT: SECTION 54  SITE 5606
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Webmaster: Michael Robert Patterson


Posted: 4 August 2002 Updated: 15 February 2003 Updated: 14 May 2003  Updated: 23 August 2003  Updated: 14 September 2005
US Military Academy (West Point) SEAL