William F. Andrews, 1958-2015

One of the most decorated airmen of the 1991 Gulf War, retired Col. William F. Andrews, died June 8 of brain cancer. He was 56. Andrews received the Air Force Cross as a Captain for heroism after he was shot down on Feb. 28, 1991. While hanging in the straps of his parachute—and even after breaking a leg on landing and coming under fire from advancing Iraqi ground troops—Andrews continued communicating on his handheld radio, warning two other aircraft to break away and launch flares in response to missiles he saw being fired at them. He was captured, beaten, and held prisoner for eight days, for which he received the POW Medal (See, Call From the Desert from the February 2011 issue of Air Force Magazine). Andrews earned two awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross with “V” for valor in previous Desert Storm actions; one for attacking a heavily defended Scud missile plant and another for providing close air support for a Special Forces team, which was trapped under heavy fire. The team was safely extracted due to his action. In all incidents, Andrews was under continuous fire from missiles, anti-aircraft guns, and small arms. Andrews also received the Legion of Merit as a colonel for managing large-scale rapid deployments of force for operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom, while commander of the 366th Wing Operations Group at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. Andrews served on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon from March 2002 to June 2004, and then taught at the National Defense University and Industrial College of the Armed Forces, both at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., until his retirement in June 2010. In 1998 he wrote the book Airpower Against an Army, chosen for the Chief of Staff’s senior officer reading list.