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Remembering Army Ranger Andrew Chris

Sporting a buzz haircut, Andrew Chris wore combat boots and camouflage long before enlisting in the U.S. Army. Former coworker and roommate Brett Hall says that before joining the military, Chris bulked up his muscles by running through the hills with a backpack full of rocks. He also loved watching the History Channel and reading books about World War II.

Derek Chris says his younger brother dreamed of teaching history. But Andrew was killed last month, just a few days after arriving in Iraq, when the convoy he was leading was attacked. NPR's Mandalit del Barco profiles the Army Ranger, who is among the 75 U.S. deaths in Iraq since May 1, when President Bush announced the end of major combat operations.

Derek says his brother "died doing what he believed in, doing what he was committed to... Andrew made his peace, and if he had to go... then this would be the way he would have chosen."

Andrew Chris' grandfather served in World War II, his uncle was an Army Special Forces intelligence officer during the Vietnam War, and his father served in the Army Airborne. Chris never really knew his dad, who died when he was three years old. Before leaving for Iraq, Chris stopped by his hometown, Huntsville, Ala.

He and Derek went to their father's grave. Derek remembers that Andrew "pulled out his Airborne wings, his Ranger cap and his battalion patch and laid them on our dad's grave and said, 'Dad, I did this for you.' It was just unexpected, but he did it and we both kind of teared up a little bit and kind of gave a little hug, and it was like at that moment, he connected, I guess, to himself in a way."

Derek Chris helped lay his little brother to rest in Huntsville, Ala. Thursday night, his friends honored him in a memorial service in California.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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