FESTUS, MO, USA
PFC, COMPANY A, 4TH BATTALION, 64TH ARMOR, 4 BCT, FORT STEWART, GA
BAGHDAD, IRAQ 03/24/2008
When talking about Andrew Habsieger, many of those who knew the 22-year-old soldier use the same descriptive language: he was tough but could be infectiously happy, loyal and sometimes stubborn, steadfastly patriotic. A leader. Friend Amy Edwards described Andrew as fun-loving and happy, always smiling. She says he knew the dangers of his duty but wanted to serve his country.
A former Festus High School “Mr. Football” in 2003, Andrew didn’t exude pure athleticism on the field. He wasn’t the fastest or the biggest, but he had other gifts. He played through broken bones and was known for his refusal to yield to pain or exhaustion. He led by example. When confronted with obstacles, he displayed a stubborn streak in the face of pressure that might cause others to fold. Joel Critchlow, who coached Andrew on the Festus varsity football team, remembered him as exceedingly tough and hardworking on the football field, and charismatic away from it. “He had a smile that came from his soul and infected everyone around it,” he said. Critchlow said he knew Andrew would make a good soldier after watching him stand up for students who had been bullied. He also recalled Habsieger’s playful nature, repeatedly testing the coach’s knowledge of edible mushrooms and making sure he ate only “processed fish sticks” on Fridays during Lent. “Knowing Andy and his family has been the highlight of my career,” he said. “I can only hope my son as a young adult will have the same qualities so consistently displayed by Andy.”
After Sept. 11, 2001, a desire to serve his country during wartime prompted Andrew’s attempt to join the Marines. Due to migraine headaches, he was refused. Stubborn as he was, Andrew wasn’t about to let that initial “no” deter him. He wrote his congressional representatives, petitioning them for assistance.
His persistence paid off. Andrew joined the U.S. Army and deployed to Iraq in 2007. The Rev. John Kerber began the funeral ceremony with, “you are here because somehow this young man touched you.” “We must carry that on in our own lives by the people we touch.” Andrew’s older brother, Jacob Habsieger, 23, who also serves in the U.S. Army, eulogized his brother. “We are honoring him, not mourning him,” he said. Habsieger recalled his brother’s absolute determination to serve his country, and his absolute devotion to friends and family. “If someone was heartbroken, he had something to say,” he said. “He was loyal to his friends, loyal to his family and loyal to his country. He gave his life for it.”