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Marine Reservist has Lucky Meeting with John Kerry

by Pamela Leavey

You never know when your luck is going to change. Private First Class Junior Andino of Massachusetts, found that out recently when he had a chance meeting with John Kerry on a flight from Washington, D.C. to Boston.

Andino, describes himself as “the kind of kid nothing much ever happens to.” Andino, from Lynn, MA, is a Marine reservist home from Iraq, due to an injury “in the spring while on duty. He fell 10 feet from a Humvee, seriously injuring his right shoulder.”

At 18, Andino had enlisted last year after graduating from North Shore Technical High School. He had wanted to be a Marine, he says, since he was 5 years old.

A little more than a week ago, he found himself explaining all this to a former Navy officer, Senator John F. Kerry.

Andino and Kerry were seatmates on a flight from Washington to Boston, during which Kerry quickly struck up a conversation.

Andino told Boston Globe Columnist Adrian Walker yesterday, “We just talked about everything. I showed him some pictures, and told him things are getting better [in Iraq].”

The conversation wasn’t all about Iraq, Andino said. “I mentioned that I haven’t been to a Red Sox game, ever. He called up somebody, and he asked me if I wanted to go to the Red Sox.”

Andino said he is a huge baseball fan who just never had the opportunity, or the money, to go to Fenway Park.

One week later — senators have no trouble getting tickets, apparently — Andino was joining Kerry on a trip to Fenway Park. They sat in the owners’ box last Thursday and watched the Red Sox win a thriller over the New York Mets, highlighted by a great catch by Coco Crisp.

“It was really good,” Andino said. “It was a very fun time for my very first game. It really made my last two months.”

Things have been tough for Andino over the course of last two months. In addition to his shoulder injury, Andino’s mother passed away six weeks ago and he’s been coping with that. He is home for now from Iraq, Andino is being treated at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Andino said his shoulder injury might end his active-duty military career. He is facing surgery, followed by at least six months of physical therapy. By the time he’s done with all that, he’ll be deactivated. He hopes to regain full range of motion, though his prognosis is uncertain.

He will, however, be able to pursue his other reason for joining the service, which was to get a college education. He said he hopes to enroll at Salem State College, and to double-major in criminal justice and business.

Andino’s told Globe Columnist Adrian Walker that his impression of John Kerry was “sharply at odds from the view many people get from seeing him on television.” It appears Andino had quite the first hand experience at finding out that John Kerry, a man he looks up to, is indeed the “Real Deal.”

I never thought I’d [talk to] someone I see on TV and look up to,” he said. “I never thought I’d be that lucky.

“He was a very nice, down-to-earth person. He was really cool. He was just like an ordinary person, very easy to talk to.”

Kerry, of course, has a longstanding empathy for veterans, dating back to his own wartime experiences in Vietnam. But Andino said the senator did not volunteer any war stories.

“We didn’t really touch base on that,” Andino said. “We just talked about the other thing” — that other thing being Iraq.

Fenway Park turned out to be a perfect place for two guys, separated by two generations, to set aside the war that links them, senator and foot soldier cheering on the Sox.

“I didn’t think anything like that would ever happen to me,” Andino said, still incredulous. “It meant a lot to me.”

6 Responses to “Marine Reservist has Lucky Meeting with John Kerry”

  1. OMG Pamela that is so cool!!

  2. Very cool!

    That young Marine sure deserved to finally have something nice happen to him for a change after the last couple months he’s had. Thanks JK!

  3. What a nice story. I hope the young man shoulder heals and he gets into school.

    Well i’m sure the boston globe had a hard time deciding to print a nice story about Kerry which was at odds from the $hi!! they print about him.

    I’m glad the young man pointed out that what the msm shows isn’t what the man is like at all. We knew that but its nice that a total stranger told the msm.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Now if only we could shove this story down CNN’s Faux news and MSNBC and the evening news programs.

  4. See! Miracles do happen! The Globe posts a real story about the real John Kerry! That story made my day.
    Thanks for posting this. I was just about to post the url myself . . you saved me the chore!

  5. Yup, that’s the guy I voted for in 2004, and the same guy I saw in town meeting settings, and the same guy who came to Reno at the last minute, with with so many more stops to make, just because he promised he would. Oh yes, he’s going to make one great two-term president of all the people. Thanks for the post, Pam. That made my 4th of July!

  6. Working on a new publication of dedicated and outstanding youth –if you know of any: please have them contact this e-mail. Let us all be reminded to leave this nation for the next generation of Americans–better than we found it otherwise we have defeated the existence of our founding forefathers and as ONE NATION UNDER G O D