When Andrew Ward enlisted in the Army last year, his family wasn't surprised. He already was living a Spartan existence. His apartment in Seattle had only the barest essentials...

Share story

When Andrew Ward enlisted in the Army last year, his family wasn’t surprised.

He already was living a Spartan existence. His apartment in Seattle had only the barest essentials: just enough silverware, a single lamp near his bed, and nothing else in his bedroom. And yet to Ward, a military life would allow him to chase a lifelong dream of seeing the world.

“We were all saying he was meant for it, to go into service,” his sister, Angela Ward of Seattle, said yesterday. Ward, 25, a private first class, was killed Sunday in Iraq when his unit was hit by enemy small-arms fire, according to Army officials. He was working as a combat engineer and had been returning from an operation in the city of Ar Ramadi in central Iraq. He was serving in the 44th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, based in South Korea, and had been in the Middle East for three months.

His family members, from Kent to Kirkland, were struggling yesterday with news of his death. But they said they were satisfied with the choices he made.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

“Everybody is really proud of him,” his sister said. “We knew it gave him an opportunity to grow. He was glad about what he was doing and we knew it.”

Andrew Martin O’Francia Ward was born in Seattle on May 1, 1979, and was raised in Renton where he attended Lindbergh High School.


Besides spending time with his family, which included seven siblings, he loved spending time alone in the outdoors, his sister said. After finishing school, he lived in Hawaii for a year, pitching a tent, picking fruit and catching fish.

“He went there with the clothes on his back, and he came back with the same ones,” Angela Ward said.

On leave just after enlisting late last year, he went straight to Vashon Island to fish, and to Victoria, B.C., to hike. His uncles were able to finagle their way into the fishing trip, Angela Ward said.

Ward did not talk much about himself, but he told his siblings stories about nature. When he first came home as a military man, he huddled with older family members to swap tales with those who had also served.

In addition to his sister, Ward’s survivors include his father and stepmother, Donald and Mary Ward of Seattle; his mother and stepfather, Estrella O’Francia-Tankersley and Joseph Tankersley of Kirkland; brothers Donald Ward Jr. of Renton, Jason Ward of Kent, Sean Tankersley of Kirkland and Walter Ward of Seattle; sisters Amilia Tankersley of Kirkland and Wanda Ward of Seattle; and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service has not yet been scheduled.

Seattle Times researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

Ashley Bach: 206-464-2567 or abach@seattletimes.com