Merle “Andy” F. Andrews, 84, a patriot and proud veteran of the United States Air Force passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Sunday, July 30th, 2023.
Merle is survived by his two children, Kathy Wilson and Patrick Andrews, son-in-law Tom Wilson, and six grandchildren-Tommy, Stephani, Kelsi, Grayson, Brody and Liam. He is predeceased by his parents, Millard Franklin and Alice Quay Andrews; his brother, William Arthur Andrews; his sister, Ann Tompkins; and his son, Stephen Scott Andrews.
Merle was born in Marietta, MS and raised in Muscle Shoals, AL. He enlisted into the Air Force in May of 1959, and went to Officer Candidate School in July of 1961, graduating as a 2nd Lieutenant in December. He volunteered for his first combat tour during the Vietnam War in 1965 and was a navigator of the AC-47 Spooky Gunship, serving as part of the first operational squadron of AC-47 gunships in combat. After his first tour, Merle then went to pilot training school graduating in December of 1967. He immediately returned for his second tour in Vietnam in December as a pilot for the AC-47, later extending that tour into 1969. During his two and half tours of the Vietnam War, Merle amassed the most combat hours in the AC-47, flying more than 800 combat missions and over 2,600 flying hours. Merle retired from the Air Force after 27 years as a Lt. Colonel. He was heavily decorated being awarded 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 3 Meritorious Service Medals, 29 Air Medals and many more.
After the Air Force, Merle began his second career in education. After earning three masters' degrees, Merle began teaching Mathematics, first for middle school, then on the USS Richmond K. Turner during the Gulf War, and ultimately as an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston, retiring in 2001.
After his second retirement, Merle moved to South Florida to be near his kids and grandkids, and to play as much golf as possible. He not only went on golf trips around the country, but also enjoyed volunteering for many golf tournaments throughout Florida. He was a movie fanatic and had a catalog a mile long of movies he enjoyed. He was very fond of shooting the breeze with the guys at the VFW, American Legion, and his favorite watering hole, Jose’s Uncle Al’s, where he is a member of the infamous “Hall of Fame”.
Merle was most proud of his children and grandchildren, and enjoyed family gatherings, taking his grandchildren to the movies, for ice cream, and attending their sporting events and graduations. He enjoyed spending time with Patrick scuba diving and golfing, and attending country music concerts with Kathy and the girls. As a proud FSU Dad, he wouldn’t miss attending a game watching party with his kids and son-in-law during football season and was thrilled to also be a Nole Granddad!
In lieu of flowers please consider donating to Vietnam Veterans of America at https://vva.org/donate