Veterans Legacy Program: Lt. Col. Robert Joseph Andrews, long serving pilot and Veteran of three wars


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black and white photograph shows Robert Joseph Andrews psoing for a photograph wearing his pilot jacket

Robert Joseph Andrews, wearing his A-2 flight jacket, poses for a photograph.

Lt. Col. Robert Joseph Andrews served as a pilot in the Air Force for over 31 years.  He flew numerous aircraft and served in World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War.

Andrews grew up in Royal Oak, Michigan just outside of Detroit. During his teenage years, a neighborhood friend who had joined the military visited on leave during World War II.  This friend inspired Andrews, and he quickly realized that he wanted to become a pilot.

He tried to enlist in the Army Air Forces in 1942 but was turned away because he was only 17 years old.  However, the Army contacted Andrews again the following year.  In 1943, Andrews enlisted in the Army Air Forces and attended pilot school.  He earned his wings in October 1945 at the age of 19.

Andrews was still in pilot school when World War II concluded.  Many of the pilots returned home after the end of the war, but Andrews remained in service.  In the years following, he escorted the remains of service members killed in the war.

The mass production of jet aircraft in the years after World War II prompted the Air Force’s need for new pilots trained to operate them.  In 1949, Andrews began jet pilot training.  By the time he graduated, the Korean War had begun.

Between 1950 and 1951, Andrews flew 61 combat missions in the Korean War.  He operated a F-86 Sabre in the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing.  His deployment ended when he became sick with malaria, forcing him to return to the United States.

While stationed at Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan he met his wife Judy.  They married and had a son in 1956.

Andrews reached his 25-year-mark in the Air Force in 1968.  That same year, he deployed to Vietnam for one year.  He flew 101 combat mission in a F-4 Phantom II in the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing between 1968 and 1969.

Photograph shows Andrews posing for a photograph in front of his aircraft and in his pilot uniform.

Lt. Col. Andrews with his Phantom F-4 II aircraft in the background.

After 31 years of military service, Andrews retired from the Air Force in September 1974.  He became a licensed realtor in Colorado Springs, Colorado and worked there for 18 years.  He also continued to serve his community in other ways, driving passenger vans for the Disabled American Veterans and Colorado Springs Silver Key organization.

In 2013, Andrews and his wife moved to Huntsville, Alabama to be closer to their son and family.  One week after moving, Andrews’s health rapidly declined following an accident.  Lt. Col. Robert Joseph Andrews died on August 3, 2013.  In remembrance of his of giving character and sense of community service, his family decided to donate his belongings through the Still Serving Veterans organization.

Today, Lt. Col. Andrews is interred at Black Hills National Cemetery.  In partnership with the Veterans Legacy Program, students and faculty at Black Hills State University conducted research on Veterans at local national and tribal cemeteries.  Andrews’s story is now shared through a biography that was written for him.  You can find the full biography here: https://bhveterans.org/2018/06/07/robert-andrews/

To learn more about the Veterans Legacy Program and how NCA ensures that the memories and stories of our Veterans are not forgotten, please visit https://www.cem.va.gov/legacy/

Please join us in honoring Lt. Col. Robert Joseph Andrews.

Author

Kenneth Holliday

Ken Holliday is part of the Veterans Legacy Program at the National Cemetery Administration. He is a proud Army Veteran, having served in the Infantry with combat deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Comments

  1. Fred Rudnick    

    I have only met just a couple Tri-War Veterans but, they are America’s best. Great post and article. Thanks for sharing.

  2. GP Cox    

    I have a Pacific War history blog and with every post I list veterans who have left us for their final missions. Some recently gone, others in memorandum and those that have finally been located and identified. Lt.Colonel Andrews will also be placed in the Farewell Salutes, and proud to do so.

  3. George Frederick Gamble    

    I was stationed in Cam Rhan Bay South Vietnam 1967 to1969. Iam glad Col Andrew’s was there to help me fight in the war. I was in the Army. Company C 41st signal battalion. A switchboard operator.

  4. Lt Col Richard Vaught, USAF, Ret    

    My second cousin was in WWII, Korea and Vietnam and like the Lt Col Andrews, one hell of a man. Wish we had more like them. I salute them all for what they did and went through. Just amazing to say the least. Lt Col Richard Vaught, USAF, Ret

  5. Jon Legato    

    Mr. Holiday,

    On reading Lt Col Andrews’ bio, I noted that your version states that Selfridge AFB (now called Selfridge ANGB) is located near Chicago. However, as a young boy living near Selfridge AFB, I read the Legacy program bio which has the located stated as Michigan. Suggest correcting your version to reflect that Selfridge AFB was located in Mount Clemens, Michigan on the shores of Lake St. Clair. It is actually nearer to Detroit (Northeast) than Chicago.

    Thank you.

  6. RUDYTEJANO PENA    

    There appears or better yet there’s actually a sort of romanticism, heroism, patriotism, loyalty and for many of us, who have served in Armed Forces of the United States, a deep indescribable pride.
    Reading about about Lt. Col. Robert Joseph Andrews, dedicated service to our nation is not only impressive, but a representation of the caliber of young men, who willing serve our nation, out of pure love ❤️ for our country.
    I am proud to be among and in the company such gallant men, who served our nation the Mighty United States .
    I volunteer to join the United States Navy December 1964. I volunteer, request duty and served in Vietnam 1967/68 Tet Offensive. In 1990, I was a leading Petty officer on board the U.S.S. San Jose, serving the fleet in the Persian Gulf during Desert Shield /Storm, Iraq War. In 1995, I Retired with my proud honorable service behind me.
    God Bless Tejas and our Mighty United States.
    RUDYTEJANO PENA USN (Ret.)

  7. George Francis Banda    

    Thanks for sharing this amazing story of Lt. Col. Robert Joseph Andrews a true patriot.

Comments are closed.