Honoring and giving back just days before Veteran’s Day, Congressmember Dan Donovan and Brigadier General William Graham hosted a ceremony at Fort Hamilton to replace stolen medals awarded to Brooklyn-born Lieutenant Andrew Doyle, who fought in World War II and disappeared over the Pacific Ocean while flying a combat mission in 1944.
During the ceremony, held on Sunday November 8 at Fort Hamilton Army Base, Doyle’s last surviving sibling , Ann Byrne, was on hand to receive the service medals.
“When we think of ‘the Greatest Generation,’ we think of people like Lieutenant Andrew Doyle,” said Donovan. “There is no more fitting way to honor our veterans this week than to replace for Andrew’s family a symbol of his heroism and sacrifice.”
Doyle was born in Brooklyn on October 9, 1920. He attended Holy Name Grammar School in Windsor Terrace, St. Francis Preparatory High School and Brooklyn College before enlisting in the Army in 1942. After serving for nearly a year, Andrew was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force on January 28, 1943 in Big Springs, Texas.
As a bombardier, Doyle was deployed to a base in the Pacific during World War II. During a mission, Doyle’s plane was hit and sustained serious injuries. Despite the incident and given the option to return to his home, Doyle decided to return to duty after a stint in a Hawaii hospital
Doyle’s plane went missing during his next mission in April, 1944. A search for the lieutenant was unsuccessful; the plane and crew were never found. Doyle was declared dead on February 8, 1946.
Ann Byrne kept her brother’s service medals for many years before they were stolen during a burglary. Ann and her daughter, Maureen O’Neill, reached out to Donovan’s office to request replacement medals from the U.S. Army, which organized a formal presentation ceremony.
“It was my honor and pleasure to meet Andrew Doyle’s loved ones, especially his sister, Ann Byrne, who keeps the memory of Andrew and his brother Hugh alive in their family,” said Graham. “It was a privilege to be able to present the medals, badges, and the Gold Star pin signifying a loved one lost in war to a family that truly understands service and sacrifice for their country. Doing it the same week as Veterans Day gave it greater meaning and significance for all of us.”
The Doyle family has a history of serving in the military. Andrew’s father served during World War I. In addition, Doyle’s brother, Hugh Patrick Doyle, was killed in action in Germany.
“I’m incredibly grateful to Brigadier General Graham and the Army for doing right by Ann and honoring her family’s sacrifice,” added Donovan. “Most of all, I’m grateful to Lieutenant Andrew Doyle. His sacrifice – and the sacrifice of so many other young men and women during those years of fear and uncertainty – should inspire us all this Veterans Day.”