In memoriam to a fallen brother: Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel Nine Line News Team March 12, 2020 Nine Line News 4 The murderous treachery on the morning of March 11, 2013 in the rugged and remote Jalrez District of Wardak Province in Afghanistan seemed to materialize out of the thin mountain air. Was it planned in advance, or executed on the fly? We may never know. But on that morning, a so-called ally, an Afghan National Policeman was nowhere to be seen when a 20-year-old insurgent jumped on the back of an Afghan police pickup truck and began firing the machine gun mounted on the truck bed. Captain Andrew Michael Pedersen-Keel – “PK” — was wrapping up his patrol briefing and never saw it coming. He was mortally wounded with a shot to the back of the head. Andrew was only 29. Also killed was 26-year-old Staff Sgt. Rex Schad of Oklahoma and the team’s Military working dog, BAK. Andrew and his Special Forces teammates were in the violent Jalrez District, south of Kabul to help improve the training and mentoring of the Afghan police and military, as part of the transition plan for U.S. withdrawal. He was betrayed by the very people he was sent to assist. Andrew Pedersen-Keel – “PK” to those who loved him – entered the U.S. Army in 2006 after earning a Bachelor of Science in American Legal Studies from the United States Military Academy and being commissioned, Andrew entered the United States Army in May of 2006. As an Infantry Officer, he deployed with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment in support of OEF IIX and IX as an executive officer in June of 2008. He was selected for a second platoon leadership position in September 2008 with 3rd Platoon, B Company. In Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, Andrew led his platoon in over 150 combat foot patrols and three air assault operations in an area of operations that included five different villages. In November 2009, Andrew attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection and during his Special Forces Qualification Course studied Pashto, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan. Andrew graduated from his Special Forces Qualification Course in 2011 and was deployed to Afghanistan in August 2012 as an (Operational Detachment Alpha) ODA Commander. At the time of his death, Andrew was serving as team leader of ODA 3126. To honor and remember the life, bravery, and humanitarian spirit of their son, Andrew’s parents created APK Charities. According to their official website, “we seek to raise awareness and support for our active, retired, wounded and fallen warriors and their families and to provide financial aid and material assistance to charitable organizations and causes. APK Charities mission is to serve as a bridge connecting our society and our Armed Forces, opening our hearts and minds to serve those who protect us.” At Nine Line we will always carry the memory of PK in our hearts. Tyler Merritt, Nine Line’s CEO, graduated in the same class at West Point with PK, and shared the same circle of friends. And Nine Line honors a similar mission. In the military, a Nine Line is a medevac request for a soldier injured on the battlefield. To soldiers, a Nine Line symbolizes patriotism, hope, and trust in one’s countrymen. At its core, Nine Line is a give-back organization, forever striving to be our brother’s keeper, and encouraging others to do the same. We support a multitude of initiatives designed to raise awareness, and financially back organizations that help those in need. From first responders to military charities to disaster relief initiatives, Nine Line is committed to ongoing support of charitable initiatives. No matter the circumstances, we’ve got your six. 4 Responses Noreen Murphy March 14, 2020 Every time I see Andrews photo, I pray for you and your family. Our son, Brian, was injured on his second tour in Iraq, and when we got that phone call, it was as though time stopped. I lost a husband , but cannot fathom losing my son . Brian was fortunate enough to heal and serve another tour. He and his wife are still on active duty , and I thank God every day for sparing both of them . Andrew gave the ultimate sacrifice, and I’m glad he is honored every day! God Bless ! Reply Georgia March 14, 2020 Until now, I only knew of Andrew and his ultimate sacrifice through a dear friend who is a beloved family member of his and who keeps his memory alive through her own loving tributes – she knows who she is…this homage has brought me closer to Andrew’s courage, commitment, and empathy and humbles me in thanks for his and his family’s dedication and love for each other and our country. Thanks to them all as well as Nine Line for the ongoing contributions made in “PK’s” name and memory. Reply Jim March 14, 2020 Thank you Tyler, your shirts of this hero comforts me so much that if im not wearing one im wearing 2 or 3, i got to know about Andrew on March 11th 2013 here in Newtown, CT. Im a roofing contractor with a passion for landscape painting and after the tragic school shooting in Sandy Hook i felt a calling to paint the local cityscapes outside plein air. After 4-5 paintings from different areas in sandy hook I thought it was a good time to paint the flagpole that stands tall in the middle of an intersection in historic Newtown. March 10th the flag was high and when i returned 3-11-13 with a 2’ x 6’ canvas the flag was at 1/2 staff and mistakenly thought it might be for one of the teachers or children, it wasn’t until later that night when i googled about the flag status and started to really feel empathy. I think it was thinking about the school shooting and what might have happened there that day that had me trying to help in the only or best way i thought i could. During the 4-5 paintings that would take up to a week or 2 to complete people would ask why i was painting the town and many times all’s i could do was cry, it was a very emotional time. I didnt know why but i think i was trying to show the world that we still have a beautiful town that murder would not define Newtown i guess. School busses would pass by and i would see little thumbs up in the window as they passed by, that was very powerful! I started feeling more each day i’d say. Back to PK, i think by learning about him and his accomplishments really changed my mindset from trying to show the world of how Newtown was beautiful to how knowing Andrew, his actions of selfless service to this country and that i was standing on that curb looking and feeling his flag with the freedom he’s provided grew my heart from a grinch size to 20x the size. To feel emotions, it saved me from the sorrow of Sandy Hook, learning of him empowered me and over the next few weeks i’d start up my roofing jobs about an hour drive to Stamford where i was lucky to have a large reroofing job on condos in the morning and get back to the flagpole to work on the painting a few hours almost each day and reading everything i could about The good Captan. Just as i was finishing a light snow dusted the scene the night before (i like to think it was him coming home) i think that was a Saturday or Sunday and call on a friend to scan and print the image to give the family at the funeral. Im blessed to have the time to learn and know how strong emotions feel. I am blessed to have this relationship, learning about him and his family for the last 7 years and has been the most eye opening as well as the most spiritually connected time in my life and everyday i am reminded what comfort feels like when i put on one of your shirts and when i need a boost i put another 1 or 2 on and feel the courage to love, to love the good people that give it all, i am thankful for my getting to Know Andrew and especially thankful that Helen and Bob share there love with the public and show images it is inspiring! Thank you for your earlier post showing Andrew and for your interpretation of his last day, i have a healthy stock of your APK charities but will no doubt purchase more! Thank you! Reply Helen March 13, 2020 Hello Tyler and Nine Line, Your retelling of Andrews last day on earth really touched my soul. Thank you for remembering with such love and passion. 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