Volunteer Story, First Lieutenant Andrew Lee, A09

For First Lieutenant Andrew Lee, A09, service is a 24/7 quality that’s threaded into his life as a Marine and citizen. On active duty in Afghanistan, he still manages to participate by long-distance phone conference in monthly Tufts Alumni Council meetings. The memory of September 11 was the catalyst for becoming a Marine, says Lee, who participated in the Navy ROTC program at Tufts.

As a communications officer, he helps troops communicate on the battlefield—“no small feat when you figure the inhospitable terrain and long distances between units,” he says. After two years in the Corps, he adds that he continues to be impressed by the caliber of his peers. “You can give Marines a nearly impossible task and they will find some way, somehow to make it happen,” he says. “It's inspiring.”

First Lieutenant Andrew Lee, A09, center, celebrates finishing second in the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan. From left to right: marathon winner, Captain Frazer Alexander of The Queen’s Dragoon Guards and a native of Luxembourg; First Lieutenant Lee; and Estonian Army Captain Andre Silver who placed third. The marathon was a satellite race to the 36th annual MCM held in Washington, D.C. PHOTO: Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Chandler

Inspiring enough for Lee to take a long-time love and what some would call a nearly impossible task in the desert and bring it to the base: running. Despite the heat, dust, 3,000-foot elevation, and risk of indirect fire, Lee organized a marathon at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan to correspond with the annual Marine Corps Marathon back here in the States. He came in second out of the 330 servicemembers who ran the race at Leatherneck, the aim of which was to build morale and a sense of unity.

Lee tries to do the same when calling in to the Tufts Alumni Council meetings. Talking to fellow alumni brings a semblance of normal everyday life to active duty, he says—even if the sun’s setting in Boston while rising on the base. “I’m usually up around that time anyway,” he says of the eight-hour time difference. “It’s a good start to my day.”