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Veterans Legacy Program: Lt. Col. Robert Joseph Andrews, long serving pilot and Veteran of three wars

Joseph Andrews


Lt. Col. Robert Joseph Andrews served as a pilot in the Air Force for over 31 years. He flew numerous aircraft and served in World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War.

Andrews grew up in Royal Oak, Michigan just outside of Detroit. During his teenage years, a neighborhood friend who had joined the military visited on leave during World War II. This friend inspired Andrews, and he quickly realized that he wanted to become a pilot.

He tried to enlist in the Army Air Forces in 1942 but was turned away because he was only 17 years old. However, the Army contacted Andrews again the following year. In 1943, Andrews enlisted in the Army Air Forces and attended pilot school. He earned his wings in October 1945 at the age of 19.

Andrews was still in pilot school when World War II concluded. Many of the pilots returned home after the end of the war, but Andrews remained in service. In the years following, he escorted the remains of service members killed in the war.

The mass production of jet aircraft in the years after World War II prompted the Air Force’s need for new pilots trained to operate them. In 1949, Andrews began jet pilot training. By the time he graduated, the Korean War had begun.

Between 1950 and 1951, Andrews flew 61 combat missions in the Korean War. He operated a F-86 Sabre in the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing. His deployment ended when he became sick with malaria, forcing him to return to the United States.

While stationed at Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan he met his wife Judy. They married and had a son in 1956.

Andrews reached his 25-year-mark in the Air Force in 1968. That same year, he deployed to Vietnam for one year. He flew 101 combat mission in a F-4 Phantom II in the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing between 1968 and 1969.

After 31 years of military service, Andrews retired from the Air Force in September 1974. He became a licensed realtor in Colorado Springs, Colorado and worked there for 18 years. He also continued to serve his community in other ways, driving passenger vans for the Disabled American Veterans and Colorado Springs Silver Key organization.

In 2013, Andrews and his wife moved to Huntsville, Alabama to be closer to their son and family. One week after moving, Andrews’s health rapidly declined following an accident. Lt. Col. Robert Joseph Andrews died on August 3, 2013. In remembrance of his of giving character and sense of community service, his family decided to donate his belongings through the Still Serving Veterans organization.

Today, Lt. Col. Andrews is interred at Black Hills National Cemetery. In partnership with the Veterans Legacy Program, students and faculty at Black Hills State University conducted research on Veterans at local national and tribal cemeteries. Andrews’s story is now shared through a biography that was written for him. You can find the full biography here:

To learn more about the Veterans Legacy Program and how NCA ensures that the memories and stories of our Veterans are not forgotten, please visit

Please join us in honoring Lt. Col. Robert Joseph Andrews.


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