Story & Photos by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems and Services
A United States Marine who had served on the cadre staff at the
Wisconsin ChallenNGe Academy at Fort McCoy and was killed in action in
Iraq was honored at a flagpole and marker dedication ceremony at the
Academy Dec. 1.
The platoon of cadets is at
“present arms” as “Taps” is played during the flagpole and
marker dedication ceremony at the Wisconsin ChalleNGe Academy.
Academy Director M.G. MacLaren told the crowd of guests and the
platoon of cadets at the ceremony, “Sergeant Andy Stevens was a Marine
dedicated to his country and a charitable citizen to his community as he
assumed the role of teacher and mentor for many young adolescents
throughout the state of Wisconsin.”
Faithful, honorable and charitable is how MacLaren said colleagues at
the academy remembered Stevens.
MacLaren led the dedication ceremony at the Academy. The 25-foot
flagpole and marker were donated by Stevens’ parents, Allen Stevens and
Kaye Olson and step-father John Olson and step-mother Deb Schroeder.
A flag detail of three cadets raised a new U.S. flag to full-staff, and
then lowered the flag to half-staff as part of the dedication. The four
parents, with MacLaren’s assistance, then removed a shroud from a
memorial marker at the foot of the flagpole. The marker has a photo of
Stevens etched into the steel plate, with the words “SGT Andy Stevens,
USMC, KIA Fallujah, Iraq, Dec. 1, 2005.”
“It is quite fitting this ceremony is held today, Dec. 1,” MacLaren
said, “for it was exactly four years ago today, that, while on foot
patrol with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division,
1st Marine Expeditionary Force, near the city of Fallujah, in the
province of al Anbar, Iraq, that Sergeant Stevens’ unit was attacked
with an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire.”
The new marker in memory of U.S.
Marine Sgt. Andy Stevens is unveiled at a ceremony at the
Wisconsin ChalleNGe Academy at Fort McCoy. From left are
Stevens’ step-father, John Olson; mother, Kaye Olson; Academy
Director M.G. MacLaren; father, Allen Stevens, and step-mother,
“Sergeant Stevens and nine other Marines died of injuries as the
result of that enemy attack,” MacLaren said.
Following Stevens’ graduation from Tomah (Wis.) High School in 1995, he
enlisted in the Marines. His life shifted to the Wisconsin Army National
Guard’s ChalleNGe program at Fort McCoy, then back to the Marines,
During Stevens’ year between Marine Corps hitches, he served as a team
leader with the Badger Challenge program for two summers and the
ChalleNGe Academy in between.
MacLaren, quoting one of Stevens’ academy colleagues, said “he worked
with me at Badger (Challenge) in 1999, and I remember how very well he
worked with the kids, and I remember how he did it. He was one of the
few staff there who understood the science behind what we did and how we
“He always had a teaching point behind everything he did and made sure
the kids knew the teaching point,” the colleague wrote. “He was one of
those team leaders who was firm, hard and fair, but he always made sure
to come full-circle with the kids, ensuring they learned from every
Stevens was born Aug. 18, 1976, in Tomah. He was a decorated scout
sniper and infantry squad leader. He is buried in Highland Cemetery,
Attending the ceremony at Fort McCoy were Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson,
deputy adjutant general for Army, Wisconsin Army National Guard; Brig.
Gen. (retired) Andy Schuster; Col. (retired) Larry Olson, executive
assistant to the adjutant general; State Command Sgt. Maj. George
Stopper; and Pastor Bill Rice of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Tomah
where Stevens was a member.
Schuster was the Badger Challenge director when Stevens was on the
staff. Larry Olson has agency oversight for the National Guard ChalleNGe