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With a dream of one day becoming a youth development leader, SSgt. Andrew Walker enlisted in the Air National Guard on June 9, 2006, as a means to pay for his education at North Central University in Minneapolis. Along with his desire to help students overcome struggles, he developed a passion for his new job working with explosive ordnance disposals (EOD) as an Air Guardsman in the military.
Prior to his senior year of college, Walker was activated for pre-deployment to train with the other deploying EOD techs and arrived in Afghanistan in January. Walker served as an EOD team member in the Ghazni Province until September 2012. On June 5, 2012, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated 20 meters away and a large piece of fragment struck the front left side of his helmet, resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI), back pain and severe headaches. He was immediately transported to Ghazni Forward Surgical Center but returned to duty two days later.
Within the same month, Walker survived another IED explosion. While returning from a route clearance mission on June 28, 2012, his vehicle struck a pressure plate IED containing 80 pounds of explosives. The explosion caused his truck to flip into the air, resulting in another TBI, a shoulder injury, and aggravation of his lower back pain and headaches. Once again he was transported to Ghazni Forward Surgical Center to then be sent to Bagram Airfield for further evaluation.
In honor of Walker’s service, he has been awarded with a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star Medal and an Air Force Achievement Medal, among other awards. Upon returning home to Minnesota, he fell in love with longtime friend Megan Greaves. She supported him through his surgeries and treatment, and they married the following year. Megan is a substitute teacher, and Walker works inspecting railcars as he searches for a job in the development field. Walker continues to volunteer in a local youth program, and the couple looks forward to having their own children soon.
Thanks to Operation FINALLY HOME and the PulteGroup Built to Honor program, the Walkers have a home to call their own located in Maple Grove, MN!