MISSOULA, MT, USA U.S. Marines LCPL, L CO, 3D BN, 7TH MAR, (2-28 BCT, 2D MARDIV), 1ST MARDIV, TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA AR RAMADI, IRAQ 10/04/2005
Marine Private First Class Andrew D. Bedard sometimes called in the middle of the night, using the minute or so soldiers in Iraq are allotted to touch base with his friends. If his buddies didn’t pick up the phone, he would call them back the next day, maybe while they were in class at the University of Montana. That’s where he planned to be one day, too, after he finished his tour of duty with the U.S. Marines.
Only reluctantly would he talk about what was happening in the desert of Iraq. Instead he wanted to know about the weather, what his friends were up to, whether the Grizzlies won the weekend’s football game.
“He’d only tell me a little bit about what was happening there, but it seemed to me that the conditions there scared him,” said Bedard’s friend Kevin O’Day. “But mostly, he was the sort of kid who wanted to know how you were doing. He’d find a way to put you first, even though we were all really concerned about him.”
Bedard, 19, of Missoula, Montana, died on October 4, 2005 by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. He had been in Iraq for only a month. Bedard, who trained in San Diego, was a Humvee driver in a unit taking part in the military’s offensive to roust insurgents out of western Iraq.
Bedard was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
A Hellgate High School graduate in 2004, Bedard was the sort of young man who seemed to touch everyone he met. He had a kindness that his friends found endlessly comforting.
“You could call him anytime and if you needed something, he’d come right over, even if it was really late,” his friend Callan Smith said. “He was just so dependable.”
He had a wide circle of friends, many of whom gathered at the home of his mother, Michelle. She told them what she knew of Andrew’s death, and together they laughed and cried and told stories about a young man they all loved.
“I came away feeling better, but it’s really been back to sadness today,” O’Day said. “It’s just too hard to believe he’s not coming back.”
It was actually pretty hard to believe he was leaving. By the end of his senior year at Hellgate, Andrew had woven a tight community of friends, a community rocked by surprise when he told them he was entering the Marines.
“You know, it was such a complete shock,” Smith said. “He was such a laid-back kid. He wasn’t this gung-ho guy who wanted to go to war.” With his friends, Bedard talked about getting out of Missoula for a while, earning some money to go to college and seeing something of the world.
Once he’d completed basic training in San Diego, Andrew committed himself to the soldier’s lot. “He said he felt an obligation to the guys he trained with, that he’d go to Iraq if they went,” Smith said. At the end of August, he did go. His friends all gathered that last night, and they did their best to say what they hoped would be a temporary farewell.
“He was just the best guy you’ll ever know,” Brunsvold said. “By the time he graduated from high school, he had more friends than most people will have in a lifetime.”