ANDREWS, WILLIAM RIP June 8, 2015
Name: William Andrews Rank/Branch: Captain/US Air Force Unit: Age: 32 Home City: Waterloo NY Date of Loss: 27 February 1991 Country of Loss: Kuwait Loss Coordinates: Status: Prisoner of War Status in 2002: Released POW 03/05/91 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: F16
Other Personnel in Incident: From SAR helicopter: Rhonda Cornum; Troy Dunlap (released); five crewmen and passengers (all killed); perhaps one other missing.
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 09 March 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, published sources, interviews. Update 2015 POW NETWORK.
REMARKS: OPERATION DESERT STORM
SYNOPSIS: On February 27, 1991, an American F16 fighter/bomber joined in air support for an allied tank battle near Basra. During the fighting, the aircraft was shot down. The pilot of the aircraft, Capt. William Andrews, safely ejected the crippled plane and reported that besides an injured leg, he was fine.
One rescue effort for Andrews failed. An Air Force search and rescue team was flown in by helicopter. Onboard the aircraft was its crew, the search team, and a flight surgeon, Maj. Rhonda Cornum. The helicopter was shot down, and five bodies were located. According to some news sources, three individuals remained missing from the aircraft.
When darkness fell, Andrews was to hide and wait for morning rescue. When morning came, Andrews could not be found.
On March 6, 1991, Andrews, Cornum and Troy Dunlap, who had been onboard the helicopter, were released by the Iraqis. Cornum and Andrews were injured, Cornum with two possible broken arms. The third individual previously mentioned from the helicopter is thought to be Daniel J. Stamaris, also released on the 6th, but no information has been found to confirm that possibility.
William Andrews lived in Hempstead, Long Island, New York until 1974, when his family moved to Waterloo. He graduated from Waterloo High School in 1976 and from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1980. His wife, Stacey, and children Sean, 5, and Shannon, 2, live in Germany. His parents, John and Barbara Andrews, live in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. He has three grown siblings as well as a 13 year old brother, Brian.
THE NEW YORK POST
MARCH 2, 1991
FAMILY WAITS AND PRAYS FOR LAST PILOT SHOT DOWN
BY POST REPORTER
Fighter pilot Capt. William Andrews -- possibly the last POW taken by Iraq --
is a husband, a father
and a hero to his younger brother.
The one-time Hempstead, L.I. resident also is a "determined
individual" who set his sights on the Air Force
when he was 10 and made it happen......
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 13, 2002 -- Feb. 28, 1991, wasn't a good day for Air
Force Capt. Bill Andrews or his wife,
Stacey. His F-15C fighter was shot down over Iraq on the last day of the Persian Gulf War.
Stacey Andrews was in a state of confusion for the next four days. "It
was very hard because I didn't know whether
he was alive or dead," she told more than 200 at DoD's eighth annual POW/MIA prayer breakfast here. "I suffered
what several of the people here in this room today are (still) going through."
The afternoon of Feb. 28, Andrews was napping while her two children, Sean,
5, and Shannon, 2, were in the child care
center at Hahn Air Base, Germany. She was awakened abruptly by someone calling her name. No one was in the house,
though, so she shrugged it off as a weird dream. Later, visitors rang her doorbell.
She immediately knew it was bad news.
"I told them to say what they had to say, then get out -- not
nice," she recalled. "He told me my husband had been
shot down and was missing in action. My father served in Vietnam twice, so to me, MIA meant I had very little hope
Friends and her husband's co-workers gathered around her to help her cope. Her father flew to Germany.
"It was a wonderful coming together of people in support and love,"
Andrews said. "We were sitting there one
afternoon and there was a report of a U.S. pilot with a broken leg that had showed up in Baghdad -- had to be
Bill!" she exclaimed. "He'd reported that he'd trashed his leg when he ejected."
That was the good news -- her husband was alive.
"We went to the club on the base and I rang the bell -- drinks for
everyone!" Andrews exclaimed. "It was a huge
celebration, not because my husband was a prisoner of war, but because he was alive."
Then uncertainty set in again. The Iraqis released U.S. prisoners to the Red
Cross, but the captain's name wasn't
listed. "His status hadn't been changed," Andrews said. "We didn't even know if the Red Cross had him at that point."
The uncertainty turned to joy when Andrews called his family shortly
thereafter from the hospital ship USNS
"That was the only phone call that could make my life right again,"
she said. Andrews packed up the family and headed
for Andrews Air Force Base, Md., to meet her husband. After surgery and recovery, he and the family returned to Hahn a
few weeks later.
"The reception there was amazing," Andrews said. "Our whole
small village turned up to welcome him home. We were
greeted with an old German tradition of a bottle of wine from the year of his birth and one from the current year --
She said her husband told her that he always had faith in his country and in
God. He knew that people around the
world were praying for him and that he was a recipient of those prayers.
"His faith and my faith in the country and God sustained us,"
Andrews noted. She said he'd only felt lost once, when
he was hiding under some stuff as the Iraqis fled from the advancing U.S. Army.
"He was scared he wouldn't survive the barrage where he was," she
said. "The war stopped just short of his
location. It grew quiet -- no more artillery from the American side -- and he prayed."
Andrews said five-year-old Sean knew something was wrong, although Shannon
was "happily oblivious, too young to know
what was happening." The family since has grown by a third child, 8-year-old Patrick.
"At five years old, my son had a fair understanding of what was
happening because, prior to my husband's incident, we
had lost my best friend's husband in a midair collision," Andrews said. "My son was best friends with their son. My
son asked me, 'Is this what happened to Daniel's daddy? Is daddy coming home?'
"I explained that it wasn't exactly what happened to Daniel's daddy and
we didn't know if he was coming home,"
Bill Andrews, now a colonel, is operations group commander at Mountain Home.
He's currently deployed as vice commander
of the 366th Air Expeditionary Wing.
Stacey Andrews thanked the spouses and families of former POWs and MIAs for
attending the prayer breakfast. "If we
had the opportunity to change places with our spouses, we would have done so in a heartbeat," Andrews told the
audience. "We can't ever fully appreciate what they've gone through."
The prayer breakfasts show people in the government still care and are
concerned about the well-being of former POWs,
missing servicemen and their families, she said.
"It also shows that there is still someone who wants to make a
difference in the lives and make things better for
those of us who have gone through this sort of thing and those of us who are still going through this uncertainty,"
she said. "The support and love of many people made life easier."