Andy Harvell, 24th STS, The Hill, NC.
Special Tactics Members Die In CH-47 Shot Down
"Andy was a loving husband to his wife Krista, a caring father to his two children Hunter and Ethan and a proud United States Air Force Combat Controller.

He was also a bad ass warrior who struck fear in the hearts of terrorists.

We will miss him forever but we take solace knowing he gave his life serving his country and fighting for what he believed was right.".................. Mrs. Harvell.


Andy's brother, Sean Harvell is also a Combat Controller

Sean is about two years older than his brother and in April 2010, Sean, an Air Force staff sergeant, was awarded two Silver Stars as a Combat Controller while under enemy fire in Afghanistan. The Silver Star is the military's third-highest award for valor.

Hand-picked after joining the Air Force, candidates for the Special Tactics Squadron must successfully complete three years of arduous training before they can be assigned to a unit, according to retired Air Force Col. John Carney.

"Out of 100 people who go into that rigorous training, maybe 10 of them will make it out," said Carney, who is credited with creating the special tactics units in the 1980s.

Staff Sergeant Andrew W. Harvell was a Combat Controller assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, NC. Sergeant Harvell was born in Long Beach, California, on 26 September 1984; he was 26 years old. Sergeant Harvell attended Millikan High School in Long Beach. After graduating from high school in June 2002, Sergeant Harvell enlisted in the Air Force and arrived at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in November 2002. Upon graduation from Basic Military Training, he immediately entered the Combat Control training pipeline. Over the next 24 months, Sergeant Harvell completed numerous Air Force and joint service training schools such as Army Airborne School, Air Force Survival School, Air Force Air Traffic Control School and Air Force Combat Control School. He was then assigned to the Special Tactics Training Squadron where he completed the Special Forces Combat Dive Course, Special Forces Military Freefall School and all upgrade requirements for combat-mission-ready status as a Combat Controller. In January 2006, Sergeant Harvell was assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, where he completed four combat deployments in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM, as well as numerous joint exercises and training events.

While at Pope, Sergeant Harvell successfully assessed for the 24th Special Tactics Squadron and was assigned to the unit in May of 2009. He was on his second deployment with the squadron in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Sergeant Harvell‘s military awards include the Bronze Star Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Joint Service Commendation medal, the Join Service Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Combat Action Medal. He was a stat-line jumpmaster.

On the night of 6 August 2011, Sergeant Harvell was part of an elite special operations team executing a helicopter assault into the Tangi Valley, Wardak Province, Afghanistan. While approaching the target, their CH-47 helicopter was shot down, killing everyone on board.

Andy perished as a warrior, taking the fight to our nation‘s enemies. He is survived by his wife, Krista, two sons Hunter and Ethan, father John Harvell, mother Jane Maher, brother Technical Sergeant Sean Harvell, and sister Anales Eder.

A sad homecoming for Long Beach Airman          09/06/2011
LOS ALAMITOS — Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell arrived home for the last time Tuesday.

On a hot, cloudless day at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, the body of the 26-year-old combat veteran from Long Beach was returned to his family and a group of about 300 mourners.

A public memorial service and burial will be held Saturday.

Harvell died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, when a CH-47 Chinook helicopter he was in crashed after being hit with enemy fire from Taliban insurgents.

The crash, which killed 38, including 30 Americans, most of whom were elite Navy SEALs, was the largest single deadliest loss for American forces in the decade-old war.
On Tuesday at 2:18 p.m. a Kalitta Charters plane landed at Los Alamitos, on which the body of Harvell was accompanied by his brother, Staff Sgt. Sean Harvell.

After the casket was removed and the family approached, an Air Force chaplain said to a hushed crowd, "America stands at a crossroads, but it stands strong because of men and women like Andrew Harvell."

The chaplain then asked for a prayer for Harvell and "for all that died on that terrible day in a helicopter crash; we pray for their comfort."

Harvell's family didn't speak publicly. 
However, Harvell's widow, Krista, issued a statement saying her husband loved his career in the military and served his country well.

She added that Harvell left three legacies, one was his career, and the other two were his sons, Hunter, 3, and Ethan, 5 months.

Left; The Harvell family walks behind the casket of Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, during a Hero Mission at the Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos on Tuesday.

The grieving family was supported by about 100 members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group that forms processionals and honors the war dead.
Bill Huddleston, a former police officer, says he joined the Riders two years ago and has been on about 40 "missions," as the rides are called, to greet those who died in combat.  "I want to show (the families) that they're not alone," Huddleston said, choking with emotion as he spoke. "That's what we all want to do is to show our support and protect them. They've had tremendous loss."

Harvell was a Combat Controller, assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, out of Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The 2002 Millikan High School graduate coordinated air support with troops on the ground in hostile situations.

Coincidentally, Harvell's older brother, Sean, was awarded two Silver Stars for action in Afghanistan in May and July of 2007.

The Air Force cited Sean Harvell for putting himself in the line of enemy fire to direct air support that killed hundreds of enemy combatants during battles in May and July 2007.
Most of the fatalities in the crash were members of SEAL Team 6, the unit that killed Osama bin Laden. Military officials said none of the crash victims was on that mission in Pakistan against the al-Qaida leader.

Huddleston has 40 dog-tag style emblems from each ceremony he has attended. As he watched the hearse and grieving family leave the Los Alamitos facility he remarked about the missions: "It doesn't get any easier."

Combat Controller Buried  Had “Heart of a Lion”

Hurlburt Warrior
By Maj. Kristi Beckman

LOS ANGELES — The last of three Airmen, who died in an Aug. 6 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, were buried at Los Angeles National Cemetery here Sept 10.

Staff Sgt. Andrew Harvell, an Air Force Special Operations Com­mand Combat Controller, was one of 30 Americans killed in action when the CH-47 helicopter they were flying in crashed in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. Two other teammates, pararescuemen Tech. Sgts. Daniel L. Zerbe and John W Brown, were buried in separate ceremonies in August at Arlington National Cemetery, Va.

Harvell was a Combat Control­ler among the most highly trained special operations force in the U.S. military. The motto of a Combat Controller; "First There," reaffirms a Combat Controller's commitment of undertaking the most danger­ous missions behind enemy lines by leading the way for other forces to follow, according to the factsheet

At Harvell's memorial service Sept 9, one of his former command­ers said he witnessed firsthand the beating "heart of a lion" within all of Harvell's actions.

"Harvell was put to the test in the Combat Controller pipeline, a grueling two years of training, but he never gave up and instilled con­fidence in everyone around him," the lieutenant colonel said "He at­tacked every day at full-throttle, with passion and love of his family and brothers in arms, (which) was exactly what our nation needed on the battlefield"

As a Combat Controller, Har­vell's job was to deploy undetected into hostile environments to es­tablish assault zones, conduct air traffic control at forward airfields, while simultaneously conducting command and control of close air support assets in support of U.S. Special Operations Command forces.

Harvell's memorial included more than 300 family, friends and teammates. Most remembered Harvell's unparalleled sense of hu­mor and the way he could light up a room with laughter, whether at home or on the battlefield.  During most of the memorial, the crowd was in tears with laughter, retelling stories of Harvell as a prankster, yet they said his professionalism was bar none.

A fellow Combat Controller said "Listening to Andy on the 'mic' was like sweet music. He put the pilots at ease with the confidence in his voice."

One of Harvell's team leads said "He could switch instantly from jokester to one of the most brave and technically proficient Combat Controllers I've ever witnessed"

His sense of humor was second to no one, and "it was a pretty safe bet he would deliver the funniest and by for the wittiest comment, no doubt about it," said one of Harvell's closest friends and teammates.

"He could always make me smile," he said "Not a day will pass that I won't miss you. But I promise you I will not sit around and mourn losing you, but rather celebrate your life by living my life intention­ally and purposefully."

In homage, he said the most ac­curate way to define a best friend is not just your favorite friend the friend you spent the most time around but rather someone who forever changes you and helps to mold the very core of your char­acter.  His friends and family said they would live not just through cherished memories and fenny sto­ries, but through living their lives to the fullest.

Krista Harvell said when her husband died, a part of her was taken that will never be replaced but she said although that piece was taken, it was filled with an un­canny feeling of pride.

Left; Maj. Gen. O.G. Mannon, vice commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, presents a flag to Krista Harvell.

"I am more proud of my Andy today than yesterday, and I did not think that possible," she said "He was an amazing husband and an untouchable father. He was very rare in the person he was, but for me he was rare in the sense he was able to play both sides of the fence, he was a warrior and took to the enemy without hesitation, but when home, he was kind gentle, patient and completely loving to our children and myself."

Another teammate said he'll miss the way Harvell used to talk about his two sons and how they changed his life forever. It was amazing watching him raise them, he said

"He has left behind three re­markable legacies: the first is his legacy as a Combat Controller, and 

second and third are our two sons, Hunter and Ethan," Krista Har­vell said "Though he is not here physically, our two sons will keep him with me here on earth until we meet again in heaven."

Harvell's funeral procession led 30 miles from his hometown of Long Beach, Calif., to Los Angeles National Cemetery with his casket in a glass caisson, pulled by a mo­torcycle hearse company. Harvell's pall bearers rode on motorcycles led by Harvell's brother, Tech. Sgt. Sean Harvell.

During the funeral, an AC-I30H gunship from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. flew overhead as full military honors were rendered. The honor guard from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., folded the American flag draped over the cas­ket while four F-16s from Fresno Air National Guard Base, Calif., flew overhead in a missing-man formation.  The flag was presented to Harvell's family by Maj. Gen. O.G. Mannon, AFSOC vice commander.

After the ceremony, more than 100 Combat Controllers and para­rescuemen laid their berets along­side Harvell's and hammered their 'flashes' into the casket, while two of his Marine brethren included a sniper 'hog's tooth' round and a non-commissioned officer sword.

"As an older brother, I looked up to him," Sean Harvell said "As Andy always said 'victory or Valhalla.' See you in Valhalla, brother."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Valhalla was a Norse mythological hall for only the bravest warriors. In keeping with that tradition, the family chose a Viking style dinner complete with a feast of turkey legs, a celebra­tion fit for their beloved husband father, son, brother; teammate and Air Commando.

8-6-2011; Insurgents shot down a U.S. military helicopter during fighting in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 30 Americans, most of them belonging to the same elite unit as the Navy SEALs who killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials said Saturday. It was the deadliest single loss for American forces in the decade-old war against the Taliban.

The downing, in which seven Afghan commandos were also killed, was a stinging blow to the lauded, tight-knit SEAL Team 6 months after its crowning achievement. It was also a heavy setback for the U.S.-led coalition as it begins to draw down thousands of combat troops fighting what has become an increasingly costly and unpopular war.

None of the 22 SEAL personnel killed in the crash were part of the team that killed bin Laden in a May raid in Pakistan, but they belonged to the same unit. Their deployment in the Friday night raid in which the helicopter crashed would suggest that the target was a high-ranking insurgent figure.

Special operations forces, including the SEALs and others, have been at the forefront in the stepped up strategy of taking out key insurgent leaders in targeted raids, and they will be relied on even more as regular troops pull out.

The strike is also likely to boost the morale of the Taliban in a key province that controls a strategic approach to the capital Kabul. The Taliban claimed they downed the helicopter with a rocket while it was taking part in a raid on a house where insurgents were gathered in the province of Wardak late Friday. Wreckage of the craft was strewn across the crash site, a Taliban spokesman said.

A senior U.S. administration official in Washington said it appeared the craft had been shot down. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the crash is still being investigated. The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan has not yet provided any details on the crash or the circumstances of Friday night’s operation.

“Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families,

 including all who have served in Afghanistan,” President Barack Obama said in a statement, adding that his thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who perished.

The dead included 22 SEALs, three Air Force air controllers, seven Afghan Army troops, a dog and his handler, a civilian interpreter and the helicopter crew, according to a current U.S. official and a former U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because military officials were still notifying the families of the dead.

Note; three Air Force air controllers were actually 1 Combat Controller, Andy Harvell, and 2 PJ'S; Dan Zerbe and John Brown, assigned to the Two Four.

8-9-2011; (KABUL, Afghanistan) — A military helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan, killing 31 U.S. special operation troops, most of them from the elite Navy SEALs unit that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, along with seven Afghan commandos. It was the deadliest single incident for American forces in the decade-long war.

The Taliban claimed they downed the helicopter with rocket fire while it was taking part in a raid on a house where insurgents were gathered in the province of Wardak late Friday. It said wreckage of the craft was strewn at the scene. A senior U.S. administration official in Washington said the craft was apparently shot down by insurgents. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the crash is still being investigated.

NATO confirmed the overnight crash took place and that there "was enemy activity in the area." But it said it was still investigating the cause and conducting a recovery operation at the site. It did not release details or casualty figures. "We are in the process of accessing the facts," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin Brockhoff, a NATO spokesman.

One current and one former U.S. official said that the dead included more than 20 Navy SEALs from SEAL Team Six, the unit that carried out the raid in Pakistan in May that killed bin Laden. They were being flown by acrew of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because families are still being notified.

President Barack Obama mourned the deaths of the American troops, saying in a statement that the crash serves as a reminder of the "extraordinary sacrifices" being made by the U.S. military and its families. He said he also mourned "the Afghans who died alongside our troops."

The death toll would surpass the worst single day loss of life for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001 — the June 28, 2005 downing of a military helicopter in eastern Kunar province. In that incident, 16 Navy SEALs and Army special operations troops were killed when their craft was shot down while on a mission to rescue four SEALs under attack by the Taliban. Three of the SEALs being rescued were also killed and the fourth wounded. It was the highest one-day death toll for the Navy Special Warfare personnel since World War II.

With its steep mountain ranges, providing shelter for militants armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, eastern Afghanistan is hazardous terrain for military aircraft. Large, slow-moving air transport carriers like the CH-47 Chinook are particularly vulnerable, often forced to ease their way through sheer valleys where insurgents can achieve more level lines of fire from mountainsides.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday gave the first public word of the new crash, saying in a statement that "a NATO helicopter crashed last night in Wardak province" and that 31 American special operations troops were killed. He expressed his condolences to President Barack Obama.

The helicopter was a twin-rotor Chinook, said an official at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was receiving his information from an Afghan officer in Kabul.

The crash took place in the Sayd Abad district of Wardak province, said a provincial government spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid. The volatile region borders the province of Kabul where the Afghan capital is located and is known for its strong Taliban presence.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement that Taliban fighters downed the helicopter during a "heavy raid" in Sayd Abad. He said NATO attacked a house in Sayd Abad where insurgent fighters were gathering Friday night. During the battle, the fighters shot down the helicopter, killing 31 Americans and seven Afghans, he said, adding that eight insurgents were killed in the fight.

NATO Airstrike Kills Insurgents Who Caused Helicopter Crash

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2011 – Coalition forces used a precision airstrike to kill Taliban insurgents involved in the Aug. 6 downing of the helicopter carrying 30 U.S. service members and eight Afghans, the commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan said today.

In a briefing from his headquarters in the Afghan capital of Kabul, Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen told Pentagon reporters the action was a continuation of the original mission to dismantle the leadership of an enemy network in Wardak province’s Tangi Valley.

“This does not ease our loss,” Allen said. “But we must and we will continue to relentlessly pursue the enemy.”

Near midnight on Aug. 8, the general said, coalition forces called in a precision airstrike with F-16s over the Chak district of Wardak province. According to details International Security Assistance Force officials released today, the strike killed Taliban leader Mullah Mohibullah and the insurgent who fired the shot -- which ISAF assessed to be a rocket-propelled grenade, Allen said -- associated with the Aug. 6 helicopter crash.

Mohibullah was a key facilitator in an insurgent attack cell led by Din Mohammad, a Taliban leader killed in a previous special operations mission, ISAF officials said. As a leader in Mohammad’s network in the Tangi Valley, Mohibullah had as many as 12 Taliban fighters under his command, including potential suicide bombers.

Special operations forces received several intelligence leads and tips from local civilians and after an exhaustive manhunt, ISAF officials said, they located Mohibullah and the shooter as they were trying to flee the country.

The security force located and followed the insurgents to a wooded area in the Chak district. After making sure no civilians were in the area, the force called for the airstrike that killed Mohibullah, the shooter and several Taliban associates.

Pictured Above;   Instructors from the Combat Control School at Pope Field, N.C. participated in carrying a log dedicated to fallen comrade Staff Sgt. Andrew Harvell around the flightline, March 15, 2013. The log, estimated to weigh 1,250 pounds, is carved with the words “Big Andy” on one side and “Victory or Valhalla” on the other. The six-mile journey started at the Combat Control School but was shared by members of the 21st Special Tactics Squadron and the 24th Special Tactics Squadron.

"Big Andy" and his mantra "Victory or Valhalla"
3/21/2013 - POPE FIELD, N.C. -- Special tactics operators from across Pope Field, N.C. took part in a six-mile walk around the flightline carrying a log dedicated to a fallen comrade March 15.

The log, carved in honor of Staff Sgt. Andrew Harvell, has an estimated weight of 1,250 pounds. Harvell's nickname "Big Andy" is carved on one side of the log and his mantra "Victory or Valhalla" is carved on the other. Harvell was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan, Sept. 9, 2011.

"We have prospective students carry logs and poles to promote team work, motivation and pride," said Senior Master Sgt Scott Innis, Combat Control School Commandant. "After the pole was finished, the staff at Combat Control School decided that combat controllers should carry it before students. We went further and invited the 21st and 24th Special Tactics Squadrons to be involved, as Andy had been assigned to both during his brief career. We split the distance evenly around the flight line."

The journey around the flightline started and ended with the instructors from the Combat Control School and was passed to the special tactics squadrons along the route. The one rule for this trip was the log doesn't touch the ground again until it is back at the Combat Control School.

A brief ceremony honoring fallen special tactics operators concluded the event with students, instructors and current operators in attendance.

Above; A short ceremony was held at the Combat Control School wrapping up the 6 mile journey around the Pope Field, N.C. flightline while carrying a 1,250 pounds log dedicated to Staff Sgt. Andrew Harvell who was killed while serving in Afghanistan Sept. 9, 2011. Instructors and student of the school, as well as current special tactics operators recognized those that have made the ultimate sacrifice.

The Harvell Fund; Honoring SSGT Andrew W. Harvell and the 31 hero's that gave the ultimate sacrifice August 6, 2011 to protect our freedom.  The Harvell WOD is an annual fundraiser for Hunter and Ethan Harvell, the sons of USAF SSGT Andrew W. Harvell.     Tel: 303-746-6821
Andrew "Big Andy" William Harvell, 26 years old of Southern Pines, NC was killed on the night of August 6, 2011.  Andy was part of an elite special operations team executing a helicopter assault into the Tangi Valley, Wardak Province, Afghanistan.  While approaching the target, their CH-47 helicopter was shot down, killing everyone on baord.  Andy was born on September 26, 1984 and Memorial Hospital in Long Beach, California.  He was the second of three children, Sean, his older brother and Analese, his little sister, who were all born and raised in Long Beach.  Andy played football for 4 years at Millikan High School where he graduated in 2002.  After graduation, Andy enlisted in the US Air Force and completed the training pipeline to become a combat controller.  In 2006, Andy was assigned to the 21st Special Tatics Squadron, where he completed 4 deployments in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.  In 2009, he tried out for and was selected to the 24th Special Tatics Squadron, the pinnacle of Air Force Special Operations teams.  It was his second deployment with his new unit that Andy was bound for an enemy target and was shot down with his brothers in arms.  Andy's military awards include the Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.  He was a static-line jumpmaster.  In 2007, Andy met Krista Klonk and married two years later, just days after completing his selection for the 24th STS as well as a 40-mile ruck march through the Appalachian Mountains.  Andy was the father of two boys, three year old Hunter, and five-month old Ethan, who were the pride of his life.  Andy was a true patriot, a man who loved his wife dearly, a man who strived to be the best father to his sons that he could be, and a man that could make a crowd laugh at anytime and constantly did.  Andy perished as a warrior, taking the fight to our nation's enemies.  He is survived by his wife Krista, two sons, Hunter and Ethan, father John Harvell, mother Jane Maher, brother Tech Sgt. Sean Harvell (also a USAF Combat Controller), and sister Analese Eder.

The funds donated to this cause are not part of a Non-profit organization or fund, but are simply placed into an education fund for Hunter and Ethan Harvell. The account is managed by myself, Christopher Jones, and Doug Matthews. I am the custodian on the account and if anything were to happen to me the account would be automatically transferred to Krista's control until Hunter and Ethan reach the age of 18. Andy, Doug, and I were all stationed together, were roommates, and very close friends in Florida as well as later when we were all stationed at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina. There is no Harvell WOD organization, or company, no paid employees, just two friends managing the website and contributing everything we receive from donations to the education fund for Hunter and Ethan. Everything you donate goes directly to the fund.