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965th AACS honors one of its own

Capt. Andrew K. Gordon, an E-3 air battle manager, is remembered by his colleagues as the epitome of what it means to be an Airman.

“We talk about integrity first and service before self and excellence in all we do. We talk about how we should be and Andrew was the epitome of that,” Capt. Kalan Clark with the 965th Airborne Air Control Squadron said. “I think everyone recognized that and his willingness to serve people really affected everyone.”

As a member of the 965th AACS, he was the assistant B-Flight commander for air weapons and electronic combat officers.

“People really looked to him and his leadership. He was one that was well-grounded. He used common sense in every situation and people really respected and admired him,” Clark said. “He was a good leader and a good friend and a lot of us had been with him since we went through training at Tyndall.”

About a year and a half ago while serving active duty, Gordon was diagnosed with cancer. He died June 25, 2018, at his home in Wetumpka, Alabama, with his wife Emily and his mother and father by his side.

“He demonstrated some amazing faith and resolve and took the information he was given by the doctor and said, “Well, we’re going to fight it as much as we can’ and against all odds beat the expectations of his life expectancy,” Clark said. “He passed in June last year when our squadron was deployed, which was hard on us because we couldn’t be there for his family.”

Despite being unable to offer their presence at the time of his passing, Gordon’s 965th family knew they had to do something to honor the person who had such an impact on all of them.

“We decided to see if we could rename one of our rooms in his honor, our auditorium specifically,” Clark said. “Our auditorium is known as the Operation Noble Eagle room, and it’s where we do a lot of our mission planning and a lot of our briefs before we go fly or go to a zone and it’s used a lot.”

Clark began the process to rename the room in October. After a few months of administrative work and background checks the 965th received the Wing Commander’s approval for the name change. On June 6, Gordon’s Tinker family were finally able to pay their respects, joined by his mom, dad and grandmother, with a memorial service in the 552nd Air Control Wing’s Fannin Hall.

Following the service, those in attendance traveled to Building 255 and watched as the ribbon was cut on what is now known as Capt. Andrew K. Gordon Memorial Hall. The event was live streamed on Facebook so Gordon’s wife, Emily, and his young son, Finn, could watch from their home in Alabama.

“I was a missionary for a couple of years once and one of the things we focused on was being a ‘servant leader.’ It’s more than just barking orders or signing paperwork. It’s showing people what needs to be done and getting in there rolling up your sleeves and helping,” Clark said. “That’s something that he did and everyone loves that. When you see your leader helping you by getting in there and doing it themselves, that really stands out.”