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SGT Andrew J. Derrick
411th MP Company, 720th MP Battalion
, 89th MP Brigade

Killed In Action ~ 23 September 2005 ~ Iraq



They Say,
our deaths are not ours,
they are yours,
they will mean what
you make of them.

They say,
we leave you our deaths,
give them some

Archibald MacLeish
poet and WWI

There is no contact information for the next of kin.

        SGT Derrick, age 25, of Columbia, SC, was killed in action by a sniper when his dismounted team came under attack by enemy forces using small arms fire near Baghdad. 


"His last call home"

        In his last call home, Andrew J. Derrick said he was hungry for a steak and wanted to go to the South Carolina-Vanderbilt football game

"He was very tired," said his stepfather, Carey Shealy. "It was 2 a.m. his time when he called, and he had had just four hours of sleep. He had been working 20-hour days. He said he couldn't wait to get home to see us."

Derrick, 25, of Columbia, S.C., was killed Sept. 23 by small-arms fire near Baghdad. He was assigned to Fort Hood and had previously served in Bosnia and South Korea.

"He was just the sweetest," said his aunt, Barbara Rainey. "It was always, What can I do for you?"

He was a graduate of Marion Military Institute, lettering in varsity football, baseball and basketball. He was named the class of 1998's "Best All Round Athlete" and was named to Alabama's All Star Baseball Team in 1998. He later attended Francis Marion University.

Derrick had proposed to Sgt. Shaunna Miller, whom he met in an Army infirmary after injuring his leg playing softball in Korea.

He also is survived by his mother, Suzanne Shealy; father, Butch Derrick; and stepmother, Deborah Derrick.

Courtesy of Atlanta Journal Constitution


"What a patriot this man was"

Hundreds say goodbye to Army sergeant killed last month in Iraq
By Bill Robinson, Staff Writer, The State

        Andrew Joseph Derrick’s family laid the fallen Army sergeant to rest with military honors Sunday, their sorrow tempered by strength drawn from their faith and knowledge he died in service to his country.

“What matters,” his mother, Suzy Shealy, said, “is that Joseph is honored as someone who is very brave.”

A sniper gunned down Derrick on September 23 in Baghdad, where he was on patrol with Iraqi police he was training as a military police officer. He had been scheduled to return to his home in Columbia for a two-week leave October 12.

Instead, his close-knit family and 500-plus mourners gathered for a funeral service at Northeast Presbyterian Church, where his mother is a member of the choir.

The Rev. George Crow, aided by an associate pastor and an Army chaplain, presided over the ceremony. He described Derrick as a faithful young man who “loved freedom ... and put himself in harm’s way for the weak and defenseless.”

Although just 25, Derrick had completed tours of duty in three of the world’s hot spots: Bosnia (while in the National Guard during the late 1990s), South Korea and Iraq. He served in Iraq twice.

“I can’t emphasize enough what a patriot this man was,” Crow said. “How do you communicate with words at a time like this?”

A song can sometimes substitute. The church choir performed Horacio Spafford’s hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.”

As he ended his remarks, Crow gazed down from the altar at the flag-draped coffin and at Derrick’s family a few feet away. Derrick’s half-brother, William, a USC student, seemed to struggle with his emotions, lifting his head only occasionally during the service.

“We thank you for the life of a heroic man with such a tender heart,” the minister said.

The word “hero” was a salve Derrick’s family applied to their collective heartache in the days after his death.

They spoke proudly of how he had prayed for a fellow soldier who died in his arms during a training accident in Korea, and how he had helped a bleeding colleague by applying a tourniquet. Derrick’s family said a few weeks ago he had told of rescuing women and children from a burning building.

“He had a passion for service,” said Carey Shealy, Derrick’s stepfather of 23 years. “He said many times he would give his life for this country so the Iraqis could have the right to vote.”

Derrick had proposed to Sgt. Shaunna Miller, whom he met in an Army infirmary after injuring his leg playing softball in Korea. He had planned to buy Miller a ring during his upcoming leave, Crow told mourners.

Carey Shealy and Miller slipped away Saturday morning to the funeral home, where she was allowed to put a ring on his finger in a private moment.

“I felt like she needed a way to say goodbye,” Shealy said.

As an honor guard placed Derrick’s flag-draped coffin in the hearse for the trip from the church to Greenlawn Memorial Park, a bell tolled plaintively in a tower above.

At the cemetery, the coffin was placed atop a horse-drawn caisson. High, thin clouds partially blunted the sun’s rays.

To the strains of “Flower of Scotland” and “The Bell of Dunblane,” a bagpiper led the caisson, the honor guard and Derrick’s family on foot around a small lake as mourners waited next to the grave. Among the crowd were the parents of Thomas Caughman, a soldier from Lexington who died in Iraq a year ago.

More prayers were said, and the honor guard hoisted the flag tautly above the burnished wood coffin. The sun broke through the clouds.

Seven soldiers each fired three volleys, followed by taps from a bugler in the distance.

The sergeant in charge of the honor guard folded the American flag 13 times to form the familiar blue triangle with white stars. Maj. Gen. Donald Ryder, the provost marshal general from the Pentagon, handed it to Derrick’s mother and offered his condolences.

As the graveside service ended, another bugler sounded “Reveille.” Carey Shealy said it was a gesture borrowed from the funeral of the late British prime minister Winston Churchill.

“It represents our Christian faith — our view of death and the Resurrection,” Carey Shealy said. “It’s time to get up.”

“We have the comfort of knowing he is in heaven, and we will see him again,” he said.

Courtesy of, C. Aluka Berry


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