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WAR CASUALTY

Falls Church Soldier Had Hopes Of Turning Service Into a Career

Harold Anderson, left, and Xiomara Mena, partially visible behind him, the parents of Army Cpl. Andy D. Anderson, are joined by other mourners at a graveside service at Arlington National Cemetery. Andy Anderson died in Iraq on June 6.
Harold Anderson, left, and Xiomara Mena, partially visible behind him, the parents of Army Cpl. Andy D. Anderson, are joined by other mourners at a graveside service at Arlington National Cemetery. Andy Anderson died in Iraq on June 6. (By Rich Lipski -- The Washington Post)

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By Leef Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 22, 2006

He was a high school jock, wowing friends and family on the basketball court and football field. But despite the years of public showmanship, Army Cpl. Andy D. Anderson had a shy side.

On leave from his post in Iraq, Anderson, 24, returned home to Falls Church last month with special plans. They were plans nearly everyone close to him knew about -- everyone except his longtime girlfriend Tava White.

In a house bustling with family and friends, Anderson slipped away with White to a quiet room where he asked her -- his best friend since middle school -- to be his wife.

They emerged from the room engaged.

"He had a ring for her," said Rafael Anderson, Andy's younger brother. "He wanted to get married when he got back from Iraq in October."

But there would be no nuptial celebration.

Anderson was killed June 6 when his camp in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad, came under enemy fire. Family members said Anderson's squad was building a barracks and had stopped work for the day. They were packing up their tools and checking the area for construction debris when a mortar round struck.

"They were deep inside their camp," Rafael Anderson said. "It just shows you that no one is safe over there."

Anderson was assigned to the Army's 46th Engineer Battalion, based at Fort Rucker, Ala. Another member of the unit, Sgt. Carlos E. Pernell, 25, of Munford, Ala., also was killed in the attack.

Yesterday, hundreds of friends and family members gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to honor a man they remember as proud and humble, a soldier who wanted to make a career out of the Army.

"He loved what he was doing," his mother, Xiomara Mena, told The Washington Post shortly after her son's death. "He was helping to reconstruct that country. We were so proud of him."

A wake to honor Anderson was held Tuesday night in Falls Church. It drew 500 people, many of whom knew Anderson from J.E.B. Stuart High School in the Seven Corners section of Fairfax County, where he graduated in 2001.


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