Andrew Karl Stern – First Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 922-04

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

First Lieutenant Andrew K. Stern, 24, of Germantown, Tennessee, died September 16, 2004, from injuries received due to enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.  He was assigned to 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California.

A quick but full life
Fallen Marine radiated zest


Friday was a time to remember for the Stern family of Germantown.

A time to read letters from their son, Andy. A time to look at pictures of him dressed in his Marine uniform, sitting in his tank or setting out across the country. A time to talk about his enthusiasm for everything from hiking and rowing crew to the girlfriends he had around the country.

It was also a day to lean on the shoulders of family and friends visiting or calling their home near Houston Middle School to express condolences.

The first two people to visit were a pair of Marines in their dress uniforms Thursday afternoon. When Eileen and Rich Stern saw them walking through their neighborhood as the Sterns returned from temple for Rosh Hashanah, they knew their 24-year-old son was dead.

“He was smart, funny and handsome,” Rich Stern said of his son. “The mother of one of his friends said he had a really mischievous smile.”

Marine First Lieutenant Andrew K. Stern, who tentatively was one month away from leaving the war in Iraq, was killed in battle Thursday. The family didn’t have many details Friday, “only bits and pieces,” supplied by the Marines. Wire service reports out of Iraq state that three members of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, to which Lieutenant Stern was assigned, were killed by hostile fire in separate incidents in the west ern Anbar province while conducting security operations, the military said. One Marine died at the scene and the two others died later of their wounds.

A remembrance service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at Temple Israel. Lieutenant Stern will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, his father said.

He was deployed in April, and to the best of the family’s knowledge, was near Fallujah. He mentioned the area in letters and showed the region in disposable cameras he sent home for the family.

His mother, Eileen, a Spanish teacher at Houston High, sat curled in a recliner Friday morning, a brown plaid blanket around her, tissues next to her side. The framed picture of her son clutched to her chest.

Other family members and friends – some local, some from Chicago – told stories about the son who challenged the Sterns as a child, matured into a leader and stood out in a crowd. “He walked into the room and the whole room filled up,” Rich said. “Some people look for attention. He didn’t look for it. It came to him.”

His life started by putting his mother through 48 hours of labor and his parents through teen years of challenge to an officer’s role in the military.

“He was rambunctious from the get-go,” Rich Stern said, “But he became as good a son as there could be. He became my best friend.”

For as long as it took him to arrive, his life was fast-paced the rest of the way. Always in a rush; under a schedule. Getting the most out of life. Rousting his brothers – Justin, 22, and the twins, Kyle and Zach, 18 – out of bed early.

“When he called he would say: ‘This is going to be quick because I’ve got to go,’ ” Justin said.

He grew up in Arlington Heights, near Chicago, and while his three brothers graduated from Houston High, Lieutenant Stern never attended school in Shelby County. After graduating from Culver Military Academy in Indiana, he attended the University of Tennessee. He was captain of the collegiate rowing crew, an officer of the Inter-Fraternity Council and a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He was enthusiastic enough about his crew teams to have a crossed oars tattoo on his back – one in the colors of Culver Military Institute, the other in the University of Tennessee colors. His other tattoo was his other passion – a Marine emblem on his right shoulder.

“He always wanted to be a Marine,” said Lisa Parker, whose son, Jeff, roomed with Lieutenant Stern at Tennessee and became one of his best friends. “He was just an awesome kid. I was honored to know him. It’s like losing one of my own.”

He learned to like country music and could drawl out a “y’all” that was contrary to his Chicago-area upbringing. The family moved to Germantown in 1997 when Rich was transferred in a previous job.

Lieutenant Stern’s red Toyota Tacoma pickup was his pride, but a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on order was about to be his joy.

After graduation from Tennessee, he was commissioned a second lieutenant. When his mother talked about the prayers and thoughts from back home, he thought of others – a sign of his character, the family said.

“If you’re going to pray for me, Mom,” Eileen Stern recalled her son saying, “make sure you pray for my whole platoon because it’s my job to bring them back safe.”

Rich Stern said Friday afternoon that they understand the rest of the Company B, 3rd Platoon returned.

Lieutenant Stern’s family worried about him daily. They hoped the yellow ribbons on the trees out front would help bring him home. They thought the prayers from here would keep him safe. They thought the tank would keep him safe. They thought he was safe enough to make it to mid-October when he had his ticket for the flight home. Even when Eileen awoke about 4 a.m. Thursday thinking about him, nothing seemed unusual, until the two Marines told her that would have been about the time he was wounded.

“He woke me up to say goodbye,” she said.

Iraq fighting claims another Marine
Lieutenant’s death brings toll from Twentynine Palms to 44

TWENTYNINE PALMS, CALIFORNIA – A strange mixture of sorrow and elation hit Twentynine Palms this week as Marines mourned the death of another fallen comrade and prepared to welcome others back to the base.

First Lieutenant Andrew K. Stern, 24, of Germantown, Tennessee, died Thursday as the result of enemy action in the Al Anbar Province in Iraq, the Department of Defense reported Friday.

He is the second Marine deployed from the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms to be killed in combat this week, the sixth this month and the 44th service member from the base to die since the fighting began in 2003.

Stern is survived by his mother, Eileen, and father, Richard, who live in Germantown.

He is also survived by three brothers; Justin, 22, and twins Zach and Kyle, 18.

Justin Stern said they last spoke with him when he called home for his mother’s birthday last week.

He, too, had received a call on his birthday and said his brother kept up a steady stream of letters and e-mails to friends and family.

“Every time someone sent him a letter or a package, he wrote them a thank you note,” Justin Stern said. “Every single person.”

Stern was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer December 15, 2001, and joined Bravo Company, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Regimental Combat Team, 1st Marine Division as a Platoon Commander on December 16, 2003, said base officials.

He was deployed with that unit in support of the second phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 in February 2004.

A graduate of Culver Military Academy in Indiana, Stern went on to the University of Tennessee where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business. He was commissioned as an officer immediately following graduation, Justin Stern said.

“He was very driven,” he said. “He was a great leader. This was what he wanted to do and we respected him for that.”

Justin Stern said his brother had two years left in the Marines and planned to stay another four if he made Captain.

Stern’s spirit and drive made his family proud and he had a lot of support behind him.

“Hopefully through all the letters and everything he knew that,” Justin Stern.

The Sunni-dominated Al Anbar province has been an especially dangerous place for the Marines and sailors of the high desert base 60 miles northeast of Palm Springs.

Including Stern, 27 from the base have died in fighting in Al Anbar Province, according to base records.

On Friday through today, more than 700 Marines and sailors were expected to return to the base from deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2. Those returning are all members of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

The 932-square-mile Marine base at Twentynine Palm is the largest, landwise, in the Corps. The base typically has more than 9,000 uniformed personnel on board and plays a vital role in training for combat with live-fire exercises in the desert terrain.

A memorial service for Stern is scheduled for Tuesday. Funeral arrangements have not yet been completed but Justin Stern said his brother will be buried in the Arlington National Cemetery.

“We’re so proud of him and all the Marines,” Justin Stern said. “We talked about that a lot today,” he said Friday. “So many bad things have been on the news, but nothing good. The only time we put faces on it is when something like this happens.”

Former Arlington Hts. resident killed in Iraq

Some who lived in Arlington Heights or Buffalo Grove in the late 1980s and early ’90s might remember Andrew Stern.

“Precocious. He was full of energy,” said Kitty Lowey, whose children grew up with Stern and his brothers in Arlington Heights’ northernmost Terramere neighborhood.

“He was an energetic kid, always on the go, the loudest kid on the block,” Lowey said. “You always knew when Andy was on the block.”

The former Arlington Heights resident, a 24-year-old Marine first lieutenant with just weeks left before his rotation home, was killed Thursday during fighting near Fallujah, in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, military officials said.

Stern’s parents, Richard and Eileen, learned their son’s fate when they found two Marines in dress uniforms waiting for them as they returned to their Germantown, Tennessee, home Friday after Rosh Hashana services.

“He chose a path that I would not have chosen for him, but I was very proud of him just the same,” Eileen Stern said Saturday.

A memorial service is scheduled Tuesday at Temple Israel in Memphis, Tennessee. Stern will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia.

Stern attended Wheeling Township Elementary District 21’s Longfellow and Cooper schools in Buffalo Grove.

In 1994, he went to the Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana. He graduated in 1998, and attended the University of Tennessee, where he joined the Marines through the “Platoon Leaders Corps.”

Andy never played “soldier,” but found the military structure, and the ability to lead, appealing, his mother said.

“He was a challenging child,” Stern said. “He definitely challenged us. Very active. Kept us very busy, inquisitive, bright. He had a mind of his own. He learned to challenge all of those skills into becoming a wonderful leader.”

Lowey, close friends of the Sterns, agreed, saying he adapted to the military lifestyle “like a fish to water. … It gave him just what he needed. He embraced it.”

Guy Weaser, a mathematics instructor and rowing coach at Culver, said Stern was a team player who was concerned about others and wanted to helped them along.

Stern spent four years on the rowing team and was a co-captain in his senior year, when he was on the quadruple scull team that won the Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championship. That led to an invitation to the U.S. Rowing Youth Invitational Championship.

Stern is Culver’s first graduate to die in Iraq, and an all-school memorial service is scheduled Monday, Weaser said.

The Sterns lived in Arlington Heights until 1997, when they moved to Germantown, Tenn. Andrew Stern was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer on December 15, 2001, and he was made a platoon commander two years later.

In April, his unit – Bravo Company, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Regimental Combat Team, 1st Marine Division, based at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. – was deployed to Iraq, officials said.

Stern had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

Eileen Stern said that just before his unit shipped out, Andy told her he appreciated people’s prayers for his safety, but added, “æ’If you’re going to pray for me, pray for my platoon. It’s very important to me to bring my platoon home.’æ”

“Now Andy’s the only one in his platoon who won’t be coming home next month,” she said.

Stern is survived by his parents and brothers Justin, 22, of Ameila Island, Florida, and Kyle and Zach, both 18, of Germantown, Tennessee.





Visitors sit in front of the grave stone for U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Andrew K. Stern, of Germantown, Tennessee,
in Section 60 of the Arlington National Cemetery during the Memorial Day weekend in Arlington


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 03/28/1980
  • DATE OF DEATH: 09/16/2004





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