The Erik S. Kristensen Memorial Scholarship Fund was established to spread the legacy of Lieutenant Commander Erik Kristensen ’91 and to honor his bravery during his time in war. Created by the Kristensen family and their friends in the summer of 2014, the scholarship gives students financial support to attend a Summer Session at Andover.
On June 28, 2005, the Taliban shot down a helicopter carrying Kristensen on a rescue mission to save four U.S. Navy SEALs during Operation Red Wings, a military operation during the war in Afghanistan. Lieutenant Commander Kristensen, who led the mission, died at the age of 33 with the 15 other men on board.
The scholarship receives its funding from alumni and parents of Andover, in addition to donations made by veterans themselves. A child who has a mother or father currently in military service or a retired veteran can apply for the program. The scholarship has funded two scholars in total; the first one was in the summer of 2014 when the scholarship first started, and the second one in the summer of 2015.
“The purpose of this scholarship is to honor the legacy of Erik who gave his life in service to our country. He was not just a great SEAL, but a wonderful scholar who graduated from Andover and went to the Naval Academy and ultimately became a SEAL,” wrote Jennifer Savino, Acting Director of Alumni Engagements, wrote in an email to The Phillipian.
Kristensen attended Andover as a post-graduate, immersing himself in lacrosse and crew. Upon his graduation, he enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) with his ultimate dream to become a Navy SEAL. Kristensen graduated USNA with honors with a degree in French and English, and rowed on the crew team. After teaching English at the USNA, he eventually achieved this goal and became a SEAL at the age of 27, the oldest in his class to graduate the program.
According to the U.S. Navy SEAL profile, Kristensen was “part of a dedicated team fighting the Taliban, a fundamentalist regime that a U.S.-led coalition knocked from power in Afghanistan in 2001… Kristensen worked to help ensure Al Qaeda terrorists could not train in, nor launch strikes from Afghanistan since their lethal attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001.”
Operation Red Wings is the focus of the 2013 movie “Lone Survivor,” in which Kristensen is portrayed by actor Eric Bana.
Kristensen’s parents, Edward and Sam, have visited the Andover campus twice since the death of their only child in 2005. In addition to witnessing Kristensen’s name inscribed in Memorial Place in 2005, they returned to campus in 2014 to honor Kristensen at a memorial service held at Memorial Place and for a screening of “Lone Survivor” in Cochran Chapel.
“[Edward and Sam] returned with many alumni and Navy family members to go to the boathouse, where they saw the pairs of oars with Erik’s name inscribed. We had a special gathering at Memorial Place followed by a dinner to honor all veterans in Upper Left in Paresky Commons. Following that, we went to the Cochran Chapel where we had a special screening of Lone Survivor,” wrote Savino.
“[The memorial service was] one of the most memorable events I have planned during my 14-year tenure here at [Andover]. It honored a man who lived a life of Non Sibi in a particular form of service – military service. It honored the sport that he loved – rowing. It acknowledged all of our veterans on staff, faculty, alumni, and parents. It provided the place and occasion for Andover to serve as host and ground,” continued Savino.