TRIBUTE TO ANDREW JORDAN (AES CLASS OF 1991)
By Tony Jordan (Andrew's father)
posted 22 December 2016
Many of you already know this but for those who haven't seen it.
I received notification earlier this week that my son, Andrew, died while serving as the Management Officer for the mission in Juba, South Sudan. For those of you who never met him, Andy was 6’3” and some, with biceps weightlifters envied. He had a smile that most would describe as mischievous and eyes to go with it for, had he not been so tall and well built, you might have mistaken him for ‘Puck.’ His wit and sense of humor might still have convinced you if you closed your eyes and listened.
He had an IQ that was off the scale and an ability to solve problems that amazed others. His logic, though sometimes contorted, was always unassailable. For example, when he was four his grandmother told him he could not go to the park on the corner to play because it had just rained; and she didn’t want him getting his clothes and shoes muddy. When - thirty minutes later - she couldn’t find him, she went to the park; and there he was splashing in the mud puddles… completely nude, his clothes and shoes neatly arranged on a nearby picnic table.
He was such a good rugby player in school in London that selective English private schools offered him scholarships, which he declined because he "didn’t want his father to be by himself." It was during these times that he and I had discussions that generally ended with the agreement that it wasn’t what you said but what you did that was important. He loved sports, anything that could be thrown or caught and involved running.
Andy did not finish his schooling; instead, he took the GED in Texas where his score so amazed the college board they offered him a full scholarship, which he declined because he thought that doing was more important than going to college. He joined Dell as a telephone tech rep and within two years had advanced within Dell quality control to a position where they wanted him to head up the office they were opening in Shanghai. But after a visit and observation of the shortcuts that were being taken by the Chinese manufacturers, he not only declined the position but left Dell to take up an offer of employment with the U.S. Foreign Service.
It was about this time that I realized he had been taking physics and math courses at the U of Texas where he had a 4.0 GPA. He would not receive a degree because he wouldn’t take the English and other courses that were required by the college. But his logic that he didn’t need English and other courses was, again, unassailable. He could already speak enough Hindi, German, Singhalese and French to get himself in and out of trouble. He wasn’t just a gifted mathematician but a linguist as well.
In the Foreign Service Andy chose the hard posts: Nairobi, Tiblisi, Lusaka, Karachi, Baghdad (twice) and Juba. At one point Baghdad and Kabul were competing for his services -- Baghdad won. He did have a brief sojourn in Brussels, but it was cut short when they needed him in Baghdad. He was cited several times by the Foreign Service for his ability to operate at the highest efficiency levels in dangerous and stressful conditions. In fact, the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development are currently drafting a message to all embassies, consulates and bureaus citing him for single-handedly mastering a problem set that allowed the Embassy in Juba to remain open even though in a besieged city surrounded by hostiles forces.
Why, you may ask, is it important for such a small mission in such a neglected nation to remain open; and the short answer is: U.S. Embassy, Juba is the locus for all food, clothing and lodging support for 1.8 million refugees from the violence that has immersed the area for more than four decades. Without Embassy, Juba these people would perish.
Andy married Deborah, a Texan; and they have two beautiful, tall and talented daughters, Madison and Helena (aka Bunny). Madi was recruited by the University of Oklahoma as a rower and Bunny this year walked on at the University of Tennessee where, as a freshman, she made the varsity and rows in the power section of the number two Tennessee varsity eight boat surrounded by juniors and seniors. She has her father’s math skills, and the two would do her honors math homework via Skype. Now she is left with her grandfather who flunked his college honors math course and whose logic skills often involve using a crowbar to wedge thoughts into place just as a fist will make those puzzle pieces fit.
Those of you who know me well know that my family is one of service extending back to before the French and Indian War. One of Andy’s forebears was Lord Fairfax’s chief surveyor on the frontier and a mentor for George Washington in that craft. Another was a soldier with Francis Marion driving the British northwards into the peninsula at Yorktown. Andy had g3/grandfathers on both sides of the not so Civil War and a g2/grandfather who was an aviator in WWI. His mother’s grandfather was one of the first fifty naval aviators. His great aunt was a nurse in China during the Japanese invasion. He had two great uncles who were aces in the Navy and Marines in WWII and one who died flying with the Blue Angels.
His Uncle Herb was with Seventh Army sweeping through western Iraq in Desert Storm, and his Uncle Michael attempted to restore judicial order in Fallujah during Operation Iraqi Freedom and then acted as Staff Judge Advocate for General Petraeus at Central Command and then in Kabul. I flew combat rescue in Southeast Asia and, as a CIA officer, fought the Cold War and some of its little surrogate conflicts including the first Afghan War and then Desert Storm and my own tour in Sudan.
The family has its medals; stars of silver and bronze, distinguished service medals and crosses; personal Presidential citations and such; but none of us, until Andy, ever saved 1.8 million people.
So for those of you who are religious, please pray not so much for Andy (for his place in the firmament is secured) but for those of us left behind, including the 1.8 million who depended upon his ingenuity. For those of you who aren’t religious, just raise a glass and ask that someone else step forward who has the values and dedication to serve others, for as they say; “To us and those like us…; Damned few left.”
Thanks for taking the time to read about an amazing young man, and thanks for being my friends.