Honoring Major Andrew D. Byers
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Honoring Major Andrew D. Byers
We propose to name the Clarence High School pool after Major Andrew D. Byers, a distinguished Clarence Swimming Alumnus. Doing so will honor and commemorate how he lived and the example he set through his bravery, character, and the ultimate sacrifice he made in defense of our nation.
Clarence alumni swimmers and divers often return to the pool to visit the team and share stories, provide advice, and enjoy the camaraderie. The students gain insight and inspiration from these alumni visits. Andy will never be able to share his brave story and rich insights with current and future swimmers, so we propose doing so on his behalf by memorializing him in a noted place in his life: The Clarence High School pool. Naming the pool after this beloved husband, son, brother, dear friend, distinguished student athlete and selfless guardian of our nation’s freedom will provide an example for future generations of Clarence swimmers and students.
Major Andrew Byers (US Army Special Forces) was killed in action in Kunduz, Afghanistan on November 3, 2016 while conducting a ‘Train, Advise, and Assist’ mission with Afghan special operations forces. Byers was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for selflessly running into a kill zone to retrieve a fallen Afghan comrade, for maintaining positive control of a 59-man force during a seemingly hopeless situation, and for sacrificing his life by leading from the front to rescue his men.
By putting himself in harm’s way to selflessly save his comrades, Andy died in a manner consistent with the way he lived. Those that knew Andy best were not surprised by the accounts of the selfless valor he displayed that day. Andy’s strength of character was apparent to those he interacted with throughout his life. His peers and friends would often tell others how he served as a shining example of the very best that Clarence High School has to offer.
Andy especially shined in the pool as a four-time All-American Swimmer and team captain. As detailed by his swim coach Eric McClaren, “It was Andy’s distinct ability to lead and to motivate the people around him that set him apart from others. He was a role model from the first day he walked into the pool. Even the upperclassmen would tell you that Andy was the driving force behind our team. It is no coincidence that Andy’s class never lost a dual meet in his entire high school career.”
Andy was known to have the strongest work ethic on the team and an unmatched drive to not only be his best, but to help others around him realize their true potential. While Andy was a formidable example of strength, he also possessed genuine kindness and compassion when interacting with those who needed some encouragement. Andy was welcoming to all. Andy excelled in academics at Clarence and participated in student council and the yearbook committee. Despite his many achievements, Andy remained the same modest person his peers came to know.
After graduating from Clarence, Andy attended The United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated 12th in his class of 972. Following graduation, Andy joined the Green Berets, successfully completed Jump School, and became a ranking officer of a High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) Parachutist team. Andy had a distinguished military career, highlighted by a posthumous award of the Silver Star, the United States’ third highest decoration for valor in combat.
In addition to receiving the Silver Star, throughout his distinguished career, Andy was awarded the Purple Heart, three Army Commendation Medals, Army Achievement Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist and Military Free Fall Parachutist badges, the Ranger tab, and the Special Forces tab.
The fellow alumni of Clarence High School are honored to have Andy as an alumnus. There are no words to properly encapsulate the quality of Andy’s character, but Coach McClaren comes closest with “exceptional.” Andy was a beloved husband, son and brother, a dear friend, distinguished student -athlete, and a selfless guardian of our nation. Naming the Clarence High School pool after Andy is a permanent and tangible way to honor him, recognize the way he lived his life, and enables his story to serve as an example for future generations of Clarence students.
Be thou at peace Andy. May we forever honor your bravery and sacrifice.
Please find further details of Andy's heroics in the article included below: https://www.army.mil/article/181848/until_dawn_surviving_the_battle_of_boz_qandahari
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