Andrew Pedersen-Keel – “PK” to those who loved him – was born on June 8, 1984 in South Miami, FL but he grew up in Connecticut, living in Wallingford, Canton and Madison. He attended Avon Old Farms High School in Avon, CT, graduating in 2002. After earning a Bachelor of Science in American Legal Studies from the United States Military Academy and being commissioned as an Infantry Officer, Andrew entered the United States Army in May of 2006. 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. He remained with 3rd Platoon, B Company for the duration of that deployment. As a Platoon Leader 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. By September of 2010, he had graduated from the Maneuver Captains Career Course at Fort Knox, KY and he began the Special Forces Qualification Course in November 2010. During this time, Andrew studied Pashto, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan. Andrew graduated from his Special Forces Qualification Course in 2011 and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group where he served as an ODA Commander until his deployment to Afghanistan in August 2012 as an ODA Commander. In March of 2013, he was team leader of ODA 3126.
On the morning of March 11, 2013, Captain Andrew Michael Pedersen-Keel was concluding a patrol briefing when a 20 year-old Afghan jumped into the back of an Afghan police pickup truck, grabbed the machine gun mounted on the truck bed, and mowed down the Special Forces team. Andrew was mortally wounded.
Also killed was Staff Sgt. Rex Schad, 26, of Oklahoma and the team’s Military working dog, BAK. Our troops were betrayed by a purported brother-in-arms, an Afghan National Policeman in the Jalrez District of Wardak Province. Wardak is a strategic location at the southern gateway to Kabul. It is a violent nest of insurgency with a very rugged mountain terrain. Special Forces teams are striving to improve the training and mentoring of the Afghan police and military as well as to help achieve a breakthrough for local governance. At the time of his death, Captain Pedersen-Keel was deeply involved in training the Afghan Army as part of the transition plan for U.S. withdrawal.
Captain Pedersen-Keel’s awards and decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, two Bronze Stars, the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, the NATO Metal, Ranger Tab, Special Forces Tab, Pathfinder Badge, Air Assault Badge, and Parachutist Badge. Posthumously, Andrew received a third Bronze Star (insert footnote), the Meritorious Service Medal, and a Purple Heart in a ceremony at Fort Bragg, NC.
When possible, Andrew loved to spend his free time with his friends, traveling, attending concerts, and fixing up his new home in North Carolina.