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Nov 02 2007

Andy Dancaster, 1976-2007

Posted by Dale @ 10:18 pm in Deployment,Outside the Wire Print This Post Print This Post

At 1500 on 1 November 2007, I received word that one of my RLTs had been hit by an IED. The devastating results were 1 KIA and 2 WIA. The lead vehicle apparently drove over a pressure detonated IED buried in the road. The blast blew through the bottom of the vehicle directly under the front passenger seat. That is where Andy was sitting. He was the Team Leader for this RLT; a man that I and everyone else that knew him greatly admired. His team had just completed reconnaissance of some of my project sites and was on its way back to the FOB. They were about 10 kilometers south of Mosul when they hit the IED. Smudge, the Assistant Team Leader, took charge immediately, secured the area, and called in the QRF from the supporting US Army unit. After the blast, there was no other attack. Apparently the IED had been left to indiscriminately kill whomever happened by. Andy and the 2 WIAs were evacuated by helicopter to the Combat Support Hospital on FOB Diamondback; their vehicle was completely destroyed by the IED.

At 0300 this morning, I participated in a Ramp Ceremony for Andy along with all of the other security detachment personnel and the leadership from MAO (MAJ Rick Biddle and MSG Curt Kaseman). The attendees formed two lines coming out from the ramp at the back of the waiting C130 Hercules aircraft. At the front of the line, I waited along with a Chaplain and Billy, Andy’s supervisor. When the ambulance pulled up, 4 personnel from the security detachment served as pallbearers and removed Andy’s casket. Those assembled saluted while we led the pallbearers to the ramp of the C130. At the foot of the ramp, the Chaplain said some words. I was so numb at the time that I can’t remember what he said. Then a member of Andy’s team said a few words as well. That was the end of our short ceremony.

Later this afternoon, I sat at my computer to put together a few thoughts for a condolence letter. Andy is survived by his Mother and Father who live in Chesire, UK. As I finished putting my thoughts in an email to send to my boss, the numbness started to wear off. I walked back to my trailer and called Mugs to ask for prayer. I spent some time crying for Andy. Mugs’ words comforted me and allowed me to not be overcome by grief.

This evening at 1830, I conducted a memorial service for Andy. Everyone from MAO attended along with all of Andy’s colleagues from the personal security detachment teams. I started off by reading Ecclesiastes 9:10-12, which says:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.
For man also does not know his time; like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.

A few people shared thoughts about Andy, then we honored him with a minute of silence. Margaret, the senior USACE engineer in Mosul, closed the service with a prayer.

Andy believed in what we are doing. He cared for the Iraqis and felt strongly about developing personal relationships with the locals. On every project visit he made, Andy would grab his interpreter and talk to the local residents. He knew that these relationships are the key to success. I believe in Andy’s vision. In Ecclesiastes 9, the Preacher goes on to say in verse 18:

Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.

Rest in Peace, Andy Dancaster.

86 Responses to “Andy Dancaster, 1976-2007”

  1. Robb says:

    I just heard of Andrew’s tragic death today, and I was stunned! I remember him from Brereton Green Cubs & Scouts as a child. When I was told, I must admit that I vaguely remembered the name, but it was when I saw his picture, I knew him straight away. His distinctive face is one no one could forget! And then the memories of that time in Cubs came flooding back. Whenever we needed to be in teams to play a game, I knew if Andrew was on our side we would win!

    It is really sad because, during the that time of innocence as children we don’t think of what is going to happen to us in the future, we tend to live for the moment. When I read what Andrew went on to achieve with his life, it really inspired me. I feel he was a very special person, he will be remember with great respect and dignity!

    Although many years have passed since that time in childhood, I have become very aware that we live in a really small world, for people I know very well and who have lost touch with years ago, it turns out Andrew knew the same people, its good to know that he had some very good friends in his life.

    I am really happy that Andrew was given a funeral he truly deserved, and although I only found out today. ‘Andrew mate you are in my thoughts! And you really did go on to do some good in the world we live! You did Good! Blessed Be’


  2. Bev Gratton says:

    I’ve known Drew for many years, and i think he was my 1st ever crush, i must have only been 10 or 12 years old! He was the one who made me laugh and made me feel like ‘one of the guys’.
    I really can’t believe he’s gone, even at his funeral it didn’t feel real.
    I’m going to miss living across the road from him, and knowing that he was safe and sound when i saw his little car parked across the road. My mum is going to miss him, he never failed to drop in to her work just to let her know he was home! That’s the sort of thing Drew did and the sort of thing I’m going to miss about him.
    It’s such a waste of a life and I’m going to miss him soo much!
    All my love to the family
    At this time we know that there is another angel looking down on us and protecting us. I’ll love you forever and you’ll always be in my heart.
    Bev X

  3. Mandy Bratt says:

    Danky was a fantastic guy and a pure gentleman he will be so very missed by myself and so many more, i find some consolation in that he will meet with my brother Garry Bratt and also Andy Clayton on the other side, 3 amazing men who are sorely missed and have left such large holes in so many lives. My heart goes out to the family in this very sad time, my thoughts are with you all. The service at his funeral was a fitting tribute to a truly fine gentleman R.I.P Danky you were one of a kind. Till we meet again one day Mandy Bratt x

  4. Mark & Stacy says:

    After attending Andy’s funeral yesterday, I wanted to express my sincere condolences to Andy’s family.
    As a former team mate in Iraq, I had the honour to work alongside Andy and gain from his wealth of experience.
    He was always there, covering our six as the rear gunner, always a calm and extremely professional person who gained the respect of everyone he came in contact with.
    The sheer amount of Andy’s friends and work colleagues that were in attendance to pay their respects was a fitting tribute to a man that had achieved so much and would have gone on to do so many more good things in his life.
    My thoughts are with Andy’s family at this difficult time, but please take comfort in knowing that in every avenue that his life took, Andy was loved and respected by all that knew him.
    He will never be forgotten.

    I’ll miss you mate.

    Mark(Echo 7)

  5. kyle says:

    sadly missed. very nice friendly bloke when i was there with him in j coy 42 cdo. . well liked and loved by everyone
    condolences with his family and all who knew him
    take care friend, i`ll see you up there

  6. LINDA AND TERRY says:

    I have read and re read these messages over the past two weeks.Andy was, and still is, much loved and respected by all who knew him. I have cried many tears for our dear friends Jose and Rich who have coped with such dignity,Andy is looking down and must be so proud of them,as they are of him. Much Love God Bless

    • Lee Robinson says:

      Hello, I really hope I am not wrong to write this message. I often scroll through my memories. I was with Andrew when he left us, he was in front of me when that awful thing happened. It was a long time ago but it’s as if it happened yesterday. I saw several shocking things while I was in Iraq for 7 years and was also a victim but returned. Please know I will never forget Andrew, we had coffee together that morning sat on our steps outside our hooches. God Bless.

  7. stubbsy says:

    andy was a true inspiration and after living with him for a year and serving in sierra leone with him he always taught me to smile in the face of adversity. was always a welth of knowledge and never looked down on the less inteligent of us !! he was a “top lad” . rip mate.

  8. Edmay says:

    I worked with Andy to some degree at GRS, Tallil – Andy was a true gentlemen and just a plain sweetheart – God always takes the good first and Andy is definitely in this catagory — he is now watching out for all of the RLT across Iraq and doing his best to keep them safe but remember if God wants you – you must go as Andy did – God bless you Andy — watch over all of us – thanks for being our Angel. With love, Edmay

  9. Mick (Winners) says:

    Only just found this site so sorry i’m late.
    I heard about Andy through the grapevine and I must say it hit hard. I met Andy whilst in training in the Marines, we then went to our first unit together and became good friends. He was a true professional, an honest and genuine man and had a knack for coming out smelling of roses. he always did well in everything he did. I have met many people in my life, I class myself as one of the boys, someone who you meet in all walks of life, but Andy, he wasn’t one of the boys as such, he was better! He was someone who you will never find another of! And that it why the loss is so great!
    He was the man I relied on for intelligent conversation and I will miss him!
    I met his parents one day in passing and they were very kind people (they let me use the toilet), but in that brief meeting I knew they loved Andy but most of all I could tell how proud they were.
    I could probably write forever here but I won’t.
    My thoughts are with all his family and those who knew him.

    Love ya mate R.I.P


  10. Dom Gray, Aegis TL RLT 14 Tallil Iraq says:

    What a good mate.
    In fact a great bloke to work with.
    I first met Andy when he came to Tallil in Iraq to work in the RLT.Later when RLT 14 was formed he was my 2i/c or as he would say my 2 ice cream!
    We had some good times some hard times but always a good laugh between us all.
    First and foremost we were all friends within the team with enough experience to know how to live, work and survive in Iraq.
    Once on a mission to a town of noted animosity towards any form of reconstruction effort Andy was in the lead vehicle.We picked up an arranged Iraqi Police escort to take us to the site we needed to visit but on the way the escort deviated from the route. After a short time Andy realised that we were being led down a dead end road with the potential to be trapped and ambushed. With speed and calmness Andy managed to get the team turned around and bugged out across the desert and with skillful navigation we negotiated difficult ground for many miles. Those of us that were there to this day believe that his actions saved us.
    I was on leave when I heard of Andys death and I was stunned we were all stunned. Andy was such a careful operator.
    I came to Andys funeral and it was a testiment to him and his life displayed by the amount of people who attended.
    I have been robbed as I have never stood at a bar having a beer with Andy but I know from our long conversations maybe we will meet in the Elysian Fields some day.
    You are my friend.

  11. Paul Holland says:

    I am immensely proud and in awe of what Andrew achived with his life, we grew up together and his sparkling personality as a chlid will remain with me forever. I regret we never got to catch up as adults, but I hope I can hounour his memory by living my life by his example – to the full with no regrets.

    See ya bud

  12. Belinda says:

    I have been so touched by all the comments everyone has written on this site about my brother Andrew. I was overwelmed by the amont of people who attended his funeral and the support my family and I have received over the past few weeks has been heart warming and although I haven’t been able to thank you all we are truely grateful.

    I was always very proud of Andrew and what he had achieved, although I now wish I had made it known a bit more. He was so outgoing and ‘full of beans’ even as a child. He never seemed to sit still for more than a few seconds before he’d be running off and doing something else! I always remember mum saying ‘Andrew walk – don’t run..!!’. He was always falling over or bumping into things because of this! Mum, Dad & I all knew he would end up in the forces. All his toys revolved around ‘Army stuff’. His favourite outfit was a camouflaged pair of trousers and t-shirt! Even his bedroom looked like the middle of a jungle- his curtains, bedding and furniture were all ‘Camouflaged!’ It was so dark in his bedroom when his curtains were shut, it was like being in a black hole!!

    When I found out why he was in Iraq and what he was trying to achieve there, I was so humbled. He did this job because that was the kind of person he was. He was always putting other people first and wanting to help. He was so caring and such a perfect gentleman. He touched so many lives, even only meeting some people once, he made an lasting impression on them. He truely was a saint. It is only now that I realise just how popular he was. Although he was only home for 3 weeks at a time, he crammed so much into them! Every time he saw my daughter Alysha, he couldn’t believe how much she’d grown and how she’d changed. He was her ‘Uncle Drew’ and I know he thought the world of her. (thought she was a bit noisy though!)

    The things I will remember about Andrew the most are his broad smile and (seemingly gleeming) white teeth! And every time he’d give me a hug – nearly crushing me! He always called me ‘Bel’, and Steve he called Stevenage’. (he had quite a few knick-names for people)

    It has taken me a few weeks to find the strength to write this. I have found great comfort in reading all the tributes on this web site and will continue to do so. I cannot thank you ‘Dale’ enough for allowing us all to express our feelings and thoughts on this website, about a very special and unforgettable person.

    Til we meet again Andrew, dear brother you will be sadly missed….xxxxx

  13. Trevor and Linda Williams says:

    After reading about Andrew and all the good things that people have said about him, we feel sorry never to have had the chance to meet him. We met his parents Josie and Richard whilst on holiday the year before last and formed a solid friendship with the nicest couple that you could ever meet. We would like to offer our heartfelt sorrow for the tragic loss of a lovely lad.
    God bless

  14. maureen kennedy says:

    well i am leaving 2007 behind me, but will take my memories into 2008! so wherever any of you are on new years eve, at midnight, join me in a toast to Drew, our absent friend! love Maureen x

  15. joe noble says:

    i worked closely with andy in the same section at 42 during telic we were very close and got upto quite a bit of mischeif!! andy was on of this worlds good guys.
    i have many fond memories and some good photos of andy if his family want to see them i will send them or come up and pay my respects as sadly i could not make the funeral.
    andy will be sadly missed
    r.i.p andy

    joe noble

  16. Liam D says:

    forever in our thoughts, and always in our hearts.
    A true Diamond whos influences live strong in the the young men he turned into soldiers. Respect x RIP Andy x

  17. Belinda (Bel) says:

    In a little under 3 weeks it will be a year since my brother was killed in Iraq. In some ways it seems like yesterday when I heard the dreadful news, in other ways it seems like a lifetime….

    Everyday that passes I wake up still not wanting to believe he’s gone. Hoping that this past year has just been a nightmare and when I wake up it will be how it used to be. Everyone happy. Everthing normal.

    His passing has left a gaping hole, wich can never be filled. It seems so unfair. A person so kind, thoughtful and the perfect gentleman had to be taken away from us. I miss him more than words can say…

    I tell Alysha (my daugher) every day, that her ‘uncle drew’ loves her very much and hope she still remembers him.

    I wear his hero bracelet with pride. Knowing what he did for his country and Iraq.

    I will probably wear it for the rest of my life.

    He was killed on ‘all saints day’ – November 1st. He truly was and still is a saint.

    In a little under 3 weeks, it will be 365 days since my brother was killed.

    x x till we meet again dear brother x x

    x x bel x x

  18. carrie says:

    a year on and your still so loved and missed,
    forever thinking of you, and keeping your family in my heart and thoughts

  19. Paula & Roy Woodward says:

    We often think of Andrew and wonder how his family are doing, we hope the pain is easing a little……

    November 1st,All saints day is a big national holiday in Spain, where we live, it will always be the day we especially remember Andrew, it really is difficult to think of him without a smile as well as a tear.
    At no time was I ever in his company without him making me laugh out loud.


  20. John Scott says:

    I went to see a production of ‘Oh! what a lovely war’ at Sandbach Boys school on 11-11, last Tuesday, which was Brilliant.
    Couldn’t help but think of our mate Andy while I was there.
    To say he is Missed – does not come near it.
    Thinking about you matey.
    John and all the Scott family.

  21. Tracy (Andy's cousin) Danny and Jaz says:

    More than a year since you have been gone,

    Forever in our hearts and always in our thoughts,

    R.I.P Andy

  22. Jon Kerry says:

    I served with Andy in the Royal Marines and first met him in training as his troop and mine both shared block K accomodation at Lympstone, we soon met again when I joined 42 commando shortly after him. After a couple of years we ended up in the same company (K then later J). We shared some good times together and became good oppoes. I lost touch with Andy after leaving the corps in late 2003, It saddened me deeply to learn about Andy’s passing and I think the world will miss a man like him.

    Rest in peace Andy next time i supp a guiness I’ll spare you a thought.

  23. Andrew Gill says:

    I first saw Drew in 1997 either at Manchester Airport or on the plane to Australia, can’t really remember which.  I was going to Australia with My Cousin Michael for a working holiday. Did not talk to Drew until I saw him again at a hostel in Sydney 2 days later but recognised him from the plane and got talking. I liked him immediately. He was young and  I thought a little naive  but an obvious warm heart and a good laugh. We struck up an immediate friendship and I soon persuaded him to come down to Coogee Bay where I had read about a cool hostel to live in. Drew and I worked and travelled together in Sydney and around Australia for about the next 6 months. We finally split up when I went back to Sydney to meet Åsa a girl we met along the way (Åsa and I are still together have 2 children and live in Sweden).  I met Drew again when he came back to Sydney before he left for New Zealand and then again we travelled briefly together in New Zealand.  When I describe the times I had together with Drew, working as Driver guides on Fraser Island, working together as farm hands for 3 – 4 months on sheep and cattle stations in the outback , I always say that they were the best times of my life. We were 2 young men on the biggest adventure of our lives, care free and loving life. My big adventure ended when I came back to 9 – 5 work and a normal life. It seems that Drews adventure kept on continuing and in some ways I envy him that he managed to do that. I last saw Drew when he came to visit Åsa and I, at our apartment in Newcastle, just as he was starting his training in the Marines.  I tried to get in touch a few times after that, looking him up on Friends Reunited, more recently looked for him on Facebook and I once called his mother in Cheshire but he was of course away somewhere dangerous at the time.  Finally today I googled him again to try and get in touch and bam, I find this… I am so sorry for all of you that loved him.  I have read many things that describe him well. A gentleman, adventurer, willing to try anything and he certainly wanted to do things his own way, its all true and I sit here in despair this morning 2 years after the fact but grieving all the same. Drew shared with me the greatest adventure of my life and he was the perfect companion for the trip. A man that touched my life in a way that only a handful over others have managed.  I only wish I had know earlier so I could have come to say goodbye to my friend.

    • maureen kennedy says:

      MESSAGE for Andy Gill if you want to e-mail me I was a friend of Drew’s i would be happy to send you some of the newspaper cutings I have, sorry you didnt get to know earlier, it might just help to ease your sadness. [email address sent directly to Andy Gill]

  24. maureen says:

    Another birthday away from us all, R.I.P. Drew, missing you always

  25. Candance Deshpande says:

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  26. Tracy (Andy's Cousin) Danny + Jaz says:

    Three years have gone and not a week goes by that we don’t think about you, especially now.

    R.I.P xxx

  27. maureen says:

    Another Christmas without you!! God Bless Maureen

  28. Sarah says:

    Sending my best regards to Andrews family and his friends all over the world that still think of him. 🙂

  29. maureen says:

    Happy Birthday Drew x

  30. Belinda (sis) says:

    It’s now been 5 years since you left us Andrew,
    So I write this poem for you dear brother..

    Do not stand by my grave and weep
    I am not there, I do not sleep

    I am a thousand winds that blow
    I am the diamond glints on snow
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain
    I am the gentle Autumn rain

    When you awaken in the mornings hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight
    I am the twinkling stars at night

    I am the song that will never end
    I am the love of family and friend
    I am the child who has come to rest
    In the arms of the father who knows him best

    When you see the sunset fair
    I am the scented evening air
    I am the joy of a task well done
    I am the glows of the setting sun

    Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there, I do not sleep
    Do not stand at my grave and cry
    I am not there, I did not die….

    • Lee Robinson says:

      Hello Belinda, my name is Lee. I was with Andrew on the day. We’d had coffee in the morning before mission. He was in front of me when that terrible event happened. always thought he had a great family. Because he was a great man. I can not forget that day. God Bless.

  31. Sarah says:

    Thinking of Andy today. Glad this blog is still to check in and see others missing him too.

  32. Bird says:

    I was watching a movie last night about the war in Afghanistan and it made me think of Andy. I just wanted to pass by and remember the great man that he was. Bless you Andy. Gone but never forgotten xxx

  33. Mark mitchell says:

    10 years on not forgotten my friend. Miss you

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