James Andrew “Andy” Garner, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer, died Jan. 30, 2014 at Baylor Carrollton Hospital of congestive heart failure.
Andy was born in Jacksboro May 20, 1929, to the late Daniel David Garner, Sr. and Esther Holt Garner.
He graduated from Jacksboro High School in 1947. He joined the Army in November 1947, retiring in December 1967. He earned his bachelor’s degree in general education from University of Nebraska in 1965.
Garner was part of “C” Company - 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Division, and completed tours of duty in Korea and Vietnam. He graduated helicopter flight training school in November 1955 and fixed-wing school in 1960, becoming a flight instructor.
One of Garner’s favorite stories: Sponsored by the Provost Marshall of Ft. Knox, Kentucky, Garner was carrying food, clothing and toys to an orphanage in the mountains in his helicopter. The crew chief saw fuel coming up through the floorboard, so Garner landed on a dirt road, sleeping in the H34 Sikorsky until mechanics arrived the next day. Bootleggers in the area scattered as they thought they were being raided.
Garner was awarded the Commendation Ribbon with Pendant for meritorious achievement, Far East Command (Korean Operation), 1950-1951.
He flew the first “manned” helicopter to the top of Pikes Peak, prior to deploying to Vietnam. He earned the Bronze Star Medal for outstanding meritorious service in ground operations against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam.
In Operation Silver Bayonet, his HU1A Bell helicopter was shot down in the Battle of la Drang, An Lao Valley, Vietnam. The battle and Air Offensive took place Nov. 14-18, 1965, making the cover of Life Magazine in February 1966. The battle is the subject of the book “We Were Soldiers Once…and Young,” as well as the film “We Were Soldiers.”
Garner enjoyed a 40-year career in investment counseling. The day before he died he called for the market report, giving a thumbs-up that he approved of the Dow Jones.
He was perpetually positive, always smiling, and liked everyone he met.
Andy is survived by his wife of 64 years, Aileen Garner, of Carrollton; daughter, Carol Mata (Eric) of Austin; grandchildren, Angela Mata and Ryan Mata; sister, Joyce Garner Wendt of Bay City; brother, Albert Garner (Anne), of Liberty City; and by numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his mother and father and seven siblings: Eloise McFarland, Anne Hodge, Dorothy Wallace, Margaret Van Wormer, Dan Garner, Jr., Jack Garner and Billy Garner.
A gathering and interment was held Saturday, Feb. 1 at Restland Memorial Park in Dallas.