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An Air Force staff sergeant assigned to the 97th Communications Squadron in Altus, Oklahoma died Friday in Afghanistan.
Andrew S. Bubacz, 23, of Dalzell, S.C., died in Nuristan, Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Saturday.
Bubacz, joined the Air Force about 5 years ago and was deployed as a member of a provincial reconstruction team, suffered head injuries while maintaining a communications tower at a forward operating base, according to a news release from Altus Air Force Base.
Emergency crews responded and Bubacz was transported to the hospital at Bagram Air Base, where he was pronounced dead. The investigation into the cause of his death is ongoing.
“My heartfelt condolences go out to Sgt. Bubacz’s family, as well as to all of his friends and co-workers here at the Mighty 97th,” 97th Air Mobility Wing Commander Colonel Ty Thomas said in the news release. “This is a sad day for us. Andrew was a great airman and we will miss him dearly.”
Flags at Altus Air Force Base will remain at half-staff in honor of Bubacz until memorial services are complete.
According to wistv.com Staff Sergeant Andrew S. Bubacz was an IT guy, but he had hopes of going into medicine.
Andrew's friend, Gary Duggan, is having a hard time swallowing the news, "Just to hear suddenly that he was gone was just unreal," said Duggan.
Neighbor John Sammons was stunned to hear Bubacz died. "I called Linda, Andrew's mom and said, is it true? And through tears she said yes. So I got off the phone, my wife looked at me and I broke down," said Sammons. "To me he's a hero, he gave the ultimate price."
"He always had a lot of friends. I never personally met anyone who didn't like him," said Duggan. “Every time he'd come home on leave, he'd come by the house and tell me and my wife hello. He was just that kind of guy," said Sammons.
His friends say Andrew was a very talented musician.
Friends he left behind say the man who sacrificed it all will be remembered by what he gave along the way. "It was starting to rain and I recognized him from where his parents lived, I picked him up, he recognized the music in my truck and he said, oh you like this music? And about an hour later he dropped by with a CD made of the same band," recalled neighbor Bryan Miller.
Neighbors say Andrew's parents have flown to Dover, Delaware to be there when his body arrives. Funeral plans have not been finalized.
Bubacz recently became an uncle, but never got a chance to meet his niece.
Possibly the best way to get to know the man Andrew was is to read the comments made by family and friends. He was a man with many friends, and so he was rich indeed in terms of having what really matters in one’s life. It is nothing short of amazing that he touched the lives of so many people in his short 23 years.
His brother Ryan wrote on his Facebook page on Veterans Day (the day before Andrew died) “I would like to thank all the vets out there; my lil brother is over there right now fighting for your freedom”.
The following day Ryan wrote: “Thank you to everyone, for those who don't know, Friday my 23 yr old brother Andrew died in Afghanistan. My heart is broken and a piece of me is gone forever”
Facebook page of Andrew’s brother Ryan: