Thursday, August 16, 2007

Andrew W. Lancaster dies 'of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device'

MONROE -- Early Saturday morning David Putnam, Monroe, received news that shocked him.

He learned that his grandson, Army Sgt. Andrew W. Lancaster, 23, Stockton, had been killed in action in Iraq.

"He was an all-around good kid," his grandfather said this morning. "He never got in any trouble."

Lancaster served with the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Division, based in Fort Stewart, Ga. He joined the military after he graduated from Freeport High School in 2002.

Putnam last saw his grandson about six months ago, he said. Memories of his grandson still are fresh, and now, still painful.

"He was a great kid. He was jolly and friendly," Putnam said quietly.

Lancaster played football and basketball in high school and also liked to fish. Putnam said his most vivid memory is golfing with his grandson.

Lancaster was the type of person who took his responsibilities seriously.

"If he had something to do, he just did it," his grandfather said.

He carried that attitude with him to the United States Army.

"He wasn't concerned about going to Iraq. He figured he had a job to do," Putnam said.

Putnam is proud of his grandson's service in the Army. He attended Lancaster's boot camp graduation ceremony in Georgia and was proud to say his grandson was a paratrooper. He described his grandson as a "good soldier" who saw active duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan, he served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

Lancaster was one of four soldiers who died Saturday in Arab Jabour of wounds from an explosive. All were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Also killed were Army Staff Sgt. William D. Scates, 31, Oklahoma City; Army Sgt. Scott L. Kirkpatrick, 26, Reston, Va.; and Army Spc. Justin O. Penrod, 24, Mahomet, Ill.

Along with Putnam, Lancaster is survived by his parents, Donna and Steve Vanderheyden, Stockton, and Harlan Lancaster, Freeport; a brother, Harley, Stockton; and two stepsisters, Jennica and Janessa Vanderheyden, both of German Valley.

He also is survived by his wife, Tabbatha.

"They were married before he went to Afghanistan," in December 2003, Putnam said.

"They planned to start a family when he got out of the service," Putnam said before his voice trailed off. "I guess that won't happen now."

From the Monroe Times