Petri Presides Over Promotion Ceremony For Oshkosh Native
On December 1, U.S. Representative Tom Petri (WI-06) served as the presiding official at the promotion ceremony of Oshkosh-native and West Point graduate Major Andrew Lerch, U.S. Army, at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Lerch served as a congressional page in the U.S. House of Representatives while in high school from 1998-1999 and subsequently received a nomination from Congressman Petri to attend West Point in 2001. He was accepted by the U.S. Military Academy and graduated in 2005. During the surge in Iraq in 2006, Captain Lerch was deployed to Iraq where he commanded over 300 combat patrols and participated in over 20 named combat operations. He currently serves as the Experimental Capabilities Branch Chief within the Nuclear Survivability Division of the Nuclear Technologies Department at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
“I have known Andrew for about 15 years now, and I was glad to agree to be here today to participate in recognizing his accomplishments and promotion,” Petri said at the ceremony, which was attended by his parents, sisters, wife Maria, two children, and many of his colleagues at DTRA.
Petri continued, “I’ll never forget when Andrew finished his time as a congressional page, and he made special arrangements with his high school to stay in D.C. and work as a lobbyist. He was quite an effective 17-year old lobbyist, as a matter of fact, but then came to his senses and pursued a career in the Army. He is someone who values service to his country, and I am glad we have people of Andrew’s intellect and determination keeping us safe by working to reduce nuclear threats.”
Congressman Petri and Major Lerch’s wife, Maria Esther, pinned the epaulettes on Andrew’s uniform, which was then followed by Major Lerch’s brief remarks thanking those in attendance, including his parents who came from Wisconsin, his wife and family, and Congressman Petri whose “letters of recommendation, support, and opportunities he has afforded me were instrumental in my career progression.”
Over his career in the Army, Lerch has received the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal (1 OLC), the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.