Andrew R. Pearson
Captain, United States Army
U.S. Department of Defense
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 374-08
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died April 30, 2008, in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Captain Andrew. R. Pearson, 32, of Billings, Montana
Specialist Ronald J. Tucker, 21, of Fountain, Colorado
For more information media may contact the
Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 291-2591.
Billings Army Captain Andrew R. "Drew" Pearson, 32, formerly of Billings, died while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Defense said Friday.
Pearson, along with Specialist Ronald J. Tucker, 21, of Fountain, Colorado, died in Baghdad from injuries suffered when their vehicle was hit by roadside bomb.
The men were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas.
Pearson, an infantry officer, entered the military in June 1998. He was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Billings Senior High.
Pearson was on his third and what his family expected to be his final tour of duty in the Middle East, said his stepmother, Rene Johnson of Lockwood.
He had served in Afghanistan and in Iraq, where he was working to open schools and hospitals, Johnson said.
"He kept telling me he wanted the country to be safe," Johnson said. "He wanted to be a soldier."
Johnson said Pearson is survived by his wife and four children in Fort Hood as well as two sisters and his father, Ronald Pearson, in Billings.
Funeral services are being arranged in Texas and in Virginia, where Pearson will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
A local memorial service is being planned.
He had been assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division since February 2007.
Pearson and Tucker deployed to Iraq in March 2008.
Pearson's awards and decorations include the
Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Meritorious
Unit Commendation, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal,
American Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service
Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Air Assault, Combat
Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Parachutist Badge, and the Ranger
2 May 2008:
BILLINGS, Montana - A 32-year-old Army captain from Billings has been killed after his vehicle was hit by an explosion in Iraq, officials said.
The Department of Defense said Captain Andrew R. Pearson, with the 4th Infantry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, was one of two soldiers killed in Wednesday’s blast from an improvised explosive device in Baghdad.
He is the 27th military service member from Montana to die so far in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the office of Governor Brian Schweitzer.
Pearson joined the military in June 1998 and had been with the 4th Infantry since February 2007. His service awards included a Bronze Star.
Married and with four children, he had been deployed in March for a third tour of duty, after serving previously in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“He believed in what he was doing and gave his all for America,” his father, Ron Pearson, said in an interview Friday. “He was very resolute in what he was doing.”
Ron Pearson said his son loved to hunt, fish and ride his bike, but that his top priority was his family. He and his wife, Jon Marie, had planned to buy a travel trailer and tour the country when Pearson got back from his latest 15-month tour, Ron Pearson said.
“They wanted to travel around and enjoy family life,” he said.
A 2001 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, where he majored in economics, Andrew Pearson was inspired to enter the military by his great-uncle, who also attended West Point, his father said.
For the 2001 academy yearbook, Pearson chose a quote from President John F. Kennedy to accompany his photo: “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility n I welcome it.”
Memorial services are planned at the War Memorial in Billings on May 10 and at Fort Hood on May 15.
Pearson will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Roadside bomb kills Billings GI
Soldier told family he was in Iraq 'to help the kids'
By DIANE COCHRAN
Courtesy Of The Billings Gazette
3 May 2008
Drew Pearson liked being a soldier because he could help people.
"He loved going over there" to Afghanistan and Iraq, said his stepmother, Rene Johnson. "He said, 'It's what I need to do. I need to help these people.'"
Pearson, a 32-year-old Army captain from Billings, was killed Wednesday by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. Another soldier, 21-year-old Specialist Ronald Tucker of Fountain, Colorado, also died in the explosion.
Pearson was the first Billings soldier to die in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pearson is survived by his wife, Jon Marie, and their four children in Fort Hood, Texas. It was Pearson's second tour of duty in Iraq, where he was training Iraqi forces and working to open and supply schools and hospitals. He had also served in Afghanistan.
"He said, 'Don't worry, Mom. I'm not in a harmful zone this time. I'm going over to help the kids,' " Johnson said.
Johnson, of Lockwood, said she raised Pearson beginning when he was 4 with his father, Ron Pearson. Ron Pearson also lives in Lockwood.
Drew Pearson, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 2001, was assigned to the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. He commanded H&H Company.
His duties during his first two tours through the Middle East kept him away from combat, and he felt like he was not doing enough to support his fellow soldiers, his father said.
"He became a company commander and led his people back there" on the third tour, Ron Pearson said. "He was a hard worker. He put in a lot of hours to make sure everything was going right."
Pearson grew up in Great Falls and Lockwood, where his family moved when he was a freshman in high school. He graduated from Senior High in 1994.
"Everything he did seemed easy for him," said his stepfather, Jay Johnson. "He was just an above-average person. Everybody knew something about him was special."
Pearson was humble about his military service and talked about hunting or cars - not work -when he called home, Jay Johnson said.
"He was a very smart and intelligent person and always had a smile on his face," Rene Johnson said.
On Friday, four small American flags draped with black ribbons had been placed in the Johnsons' yard in honor of Pearson, Tucker and two other American soldiers killed in Iraq on Wednesday.
"He was a boy every family would be proud to call their son," Ron Pearson said.
Pearson also is survived by his mother, Sue Scott, and two brothers in Boise, Idaho, and two sisters in Billings. Johnson said he had a special relationship with his sister Jennifer, who has Down syndrome and a heart defect.
During and after high school, Pearson stocked shelves and carried groceries for customers at the Lockwood IGA.
"He was one of the best kids we ever had work here in the store," said owner Shayne Meskimen. "Drew was always pretty special to me. Didn't have to follow him around making sure he was working."
Pearson rode his bicycle to and from work - he didn't get a car until after he was in the military - and liked to ham it up for the camera when employees dressed up for theme days.
But he worked hard, too.
"He was very much a go-getter," Meskimen said. "Very energetic, hardworking, conscientious."
After high school, Pearson enlisted in the Army and served at Fort Lewis in Washington. He worked in the military jail, which he did not like because he had to be locked inside the building with the inmates, his father said.
"He was inspired to better himself," Ron Pearson said.
That betterment took the form of an appointment to the academy at West Point. He was nominated for the post by Senator Max Baucus, D-Montana, in 1997.
Pearson eventually decided to make the military his career, family members said.
"He went into it with his heart and soul," Ron Pearson said.
Pearson was the 28th Montana soldier to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. More than 200 Montana soldiers have been injured in the conflicts.
About 4,500 American soldiers have died in Iraq or Afghanistan, including more than 60 West Point graduates.
Pearson's remains will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery after a memorial service in Texas later this month.
A memorial for family and friends in Billings will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 10, 2008, at the war memorial by the Yellowstone County Courthouse.
"I want the world to know he was a hero," Rene Johnson said.
Memorial pays tribute to Billings soldier killed in Iraq
11 May 2008
By BECKY SHAY of the Billings Gazette
BILLINGS - on Pearson was proud as he stood in front of more than 200 people gathered at his son's memorial service.
And he knew that his son, Captain Andrew Pearson, would have felt the same way.
''I have tears in my eyes,'' Pearson said from behind dark glasses and added he was proud of Billings and grateful to the many veterans there to honor his son.
''I know my son is proud and honored, too,'' Pearson said during a public memorial service at the Purple Heart Memorial in downtown Billings.
Capt. Pearson, who was called Drew, died April 30 in Iraq while serving with the Army's First Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division. Pearson recalled the two Army officers who came to his door to deliver the message of his son's death.
''Even before I saw the expression on their face, I knew,'' he said.
When he look at their expressions, Pearson said, he saw sorrow. He saw the pain his son had described feeling when he had delivered the same sad news to other families.
''He told me it was the hardest duty he ever had to do,'' Pearson said.
Pearson, 32, and Spc. Ronald Tucker, 21, were killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. Andrew Pearson was on his third tour of duty. During the first tour, to Afghanistan, he worked in supply. It was essential work, but Pearson felt he wasn't doing enough, he father said.
''I felt his frustration many times,'' he said.
The second tour, when Pearson served in Iraq, he felt more useful but still believed he was behind a desk too much.
This tour, Pearson went as commander of H&H Company. He would lead his men into battle.
''On his last tour, his wish was granted,'' Pearson said.
Pearson didn't want to be a hero in battle, he father said, but he wanted to lead his men and do his duty.
''My son was living the dream,'' Pearson said.
The service was attended by numerous military and government dignitaries, including U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Representative Denny Rehberg, Governor Brian Schweitzer and county commissioners Bill Kennedy and John Ostland.
The North 27th Street side of the park was lined by members of the Patriot Guard Riders, many holding flags, and a number of Boy Scouts. Many of those attending the service were connected to the service and wore the shiny satin jackets of the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, Marine Corps League. Others, active in military service, wore dress uniforms and khaki fatigues.
Chaplain Major Mark McManus called it a ''solemn spring day'' during which the crowd gathered to honor a ''dedicated soldier, outstanding officer, treasured son and loving father and husband.''
''Captain Pearson was special,'' Major General Randy Mosley said. ''He made an extraordinary sacrifice.''
Mosley, commander of the Montana National Guard, spoke of the risks and honors of service and sacrifice that Pearson took on as a member of the military. Those are duties and characteristics that few people share, but that benefit all Americans, he said.
''Those who die in the service of their nation, did so because they took an oath to defend this nation and its constitution,'' Mosley said.
Mosley spoke of the duty, honor, courage and self-sacrifice that soldiers, including Pearson, exhibit.
''We are all forever in their debt for putting themselves in harm's way so that we may live in peace,'' he said.
Those at the services also remembered the ones who make sacrifices at home while members of the military are in harm's way.
Pearson described his daughter-in-law, Jon Marie, as a shining example of an American citizen. She sent her husband to war and took care of four children, Danny, Gaby, Cheyenne and Kristopher James. At the same time, she pursued a college degree and was head of his unit's family readiness group, serving the other families of deployed soldiers.
Other survivors include his mother, Sue Scott of Boise; and stepmothers, Rene Johnson and Sandy Pearson, both of Billings; two sisters, Heather Smith and Jennifer Pearson of Billings, and two brothers, Wayne and Hugh Scott of Boise.
The memorial service ended with military honors, including the presentation of a flag to Ron Pearson, a rifle volley, ''Taps'' played by a bugler and ''Amazing Grace'' by a bagpiper.
Plaques were presented to the family by Adam Olivas, state commander of the Purple Heart Association and the Patriot Guard Riders. The commissioners presented a plaque and a name plate which will be placed on an electronic locater for the Purple Heart Memorial that is located in the courthouse. In the tradition of Purple Heart recipients, and noting the day before Mother's Day, purple roses were given to members of Pearson's family.
''There could never be remembering somebody's life without remembering their mothers,'' said Angelo Biano, who served as master of ceremonies.
Following the ceremonies, Billings Police Department stopped traffic while the Patriot Riders Guard led the family through town to a reception.
There will be a memorial service Friday at Fort Hood, where Pearson was stationed and his wife and children live. Pearson will be buried May 20 in Arlington National Cemetery, where he will ''join the veterans he had so much respect for,'' he father said.
A memorial account has been established at Western Security Bank in Lockwood.
PEARSON, ANDREW R
Posted: 2 May 2008 Updated: 3 May 2008 Updated: 14 May 2008 Updated: 17 April 2010
Photo Courtesy of Eileen Horan, April 2010