Andrew "Boomer" Eykelenboom

Andrew "Boomer" Eykelenboom

Known to his parents as Andy, his brothers and civilian friends as Andrew, his military comrades as "Boomer".

Born on November 3, 1982 at the Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta (where he later volunteered and completed some of his medical work experience). He was the youngest of three boys: Steven was older by 7 yrs and 4 months and Gordon by 4 yrs and 6 months. Andrew, as the youngest, was protected and also picked upon, but he soon learnt to stand up for himself. As he grew into a young man, his relationships with his brothers became closer and they would have fun together in their crazy outdoor pursuits.

Andrew grew up on an acreage 20 km southwest of Edmonton. The boys had lots of adventures. They had a huge sand pile and there he spent many hours building roads, mud pies and playing with his brothers and friends. If not in the sand pile, he could be found building tree forts, hiding in a tree or enjoying some quiet time in the loft of the barn. Camping and fishing with his Dad, Mom and brothers was a regular weekend activity.

He was the type of kid who licked the frost off the metal around the window of the school bus just to see what would happen - and then left a portion of his tongue behind. He also stood up for and protected his buddies, which at one time caused him to be hospitalized when he was 16. He was an avid sports enthusiast: he played baseball, soccer, basketball & rugby; he was in swimming, gymnastics, and archery; he loved mountain biking and was skiing Black Diamond runs by the time he was 8. He belonged to a church youth group, loved to go camping and fishing with his family, and thoroughly enjoyed the many times that he attended a Christian Wilderness Camp in Nordegg, Alberta, where rock climbing and other adventure sports were daily activities.

He attended Graminia Community School from Kindergarten ‘till Grade 7, went to St. Marguerite in Spruce Grove for Grade 8 and then back to Graminia for Grade 9. He went to Spruce Grove Composite High and then Highland Secondary in Comox for the last two years of high school, where he graduated in 2001.

He never wanted the limelight, and always preferred to help behind the scenes. Andrew would show compassion to anyone who had any form of disability. Like the time in the grocery store when Andrew (15 yrs) had gone off to pick up the things that he liked in his school lunches, but instead his Mom found him kneeling beside a gentleman with physical and mental challenges, in a wheelchair, helping him get the things that were on his list. Or when he gave his brand new toque and gloves to the homeless person he saw looking in the dumpsters one cold morning. He would stop and talk with the elderly in the hospital because he truly wanted to hear what they had to say. He had the ability to see a person for who they really were - inside - and he cared for and valued people.

In August of 1999, his Mom and Dad decided to retire and move to Comox, British Columbia. A significant part of this decision was that Andrew would be able to move with them, make roots on the Island, and hopefully want to live there as an adult. His older two brothers were in secondary education in Alberta and heading towards their careers. For all of his life Andrew had been bussed to school and the one thing that he wanted was to be able to walk instead. So with a lot of Andrew’s help and input, they built a house within walking distance of Highland Secondary in Comox.

Come moving day, Andrew was 16 and he really wanted to drive. So off they went; his Dad leading the way, driving the truck camper and towing the Jeep, he and his Mom beside him in their car. At first he was going to drive just to Edson, then Jasper, then Kamloops, then to Vancouver, but not through the city – well, he drove the entire way, his Mom relaxed beside him. Her youngest son was turning into a man.

Once on the island, he joined a rugby team, started competitive kick-boxing and had a lot of fun fishing with his Dad, snow boarding, surfing, hiking, running, camping, hanging out with friends, lots of bonfires on the beach, and playing pool at home. He loved the outdoors and all that Vancouver Island had to offer. He savoured its’ beauty and helped his family and friends appreciate what they had.

After getting involved in firefighting training through the Comox Fire Hall in the summer of 2000, Andrew decided that he wanted to be a firefighter. The following year he did a work practicum at 19 Wing Comox with the military firefighters. At the end of Grade 12 (June 2001) he announced that he was going to join the military. His first choice was to enrol as a fire fighter, but as he scored highly in his aptitude testing in the medical areas, he was asked if he would sign up as a medic. That fit in his plan to someday be a fire fighter/paramedic in the Comox Valley, so he said yes. On October 1, 2001 Andrew went to Gagetown, New Brunswick for Basic Training. His Mom had actually tried to talk him out of joining the military after 9/11, but he was determined. He said to her “Mom, I am needed even more now”.

When asked to commit to another three years, he did so only after the military agreed to send him for more training and to Afghanistan. He was determined to help to make a difference and do what he had been trained to do. He was the youngest and the only Private when he was on his QL 5 course and took lots of ribbing over it, but it never bothered him. According to his friends he studied hard, played hard and laughed lots. Everyone was his friend and the stories they tell today make your cheeks sore and your stomach ache from the shared laughs.

Andrew was comfortable in “his own skin”. He liked who he was. He didn’t have to try to be someone else, even though he was well aware that he could not do everything. He was who he was. He had a confidence about himself that amazed one of his Sergeants. His CO’s commented on this goofy kid with the huge smile, who would come through with such excellent medical treatment of those in his care, knew his stuff and grew into an amazing man through his service to our country. His cup was always more than half full even during the toughest times in Afghanistan.

In February 2006, Boomer left for Afghanistan for a seven month tour. By August 10th he was to be done. Boomer had only just returned to Kandahar base on August 9th after a long stint outside the wire with the Patricia’s. Believing that he was all done, he was packing to go home, and his kit was handed in. That day, however, they were short of medics, so Andrew volunteered to do one more shift. His Sergeant didn’t want to send him back out, but gratefully, he eventually assigned him, promising Boomer that it would be the last one he would have to do, and acknowledging he had already done far more than his share. The smile on Boomer’s face beat all of the previous smiles that his Sergeant had seen, he said that he will always remember that one. Boomer was going to get some well deserved rest after this last mission. On the return to camp that day, on August 11th, 2006, he was killed by a suicide bomber. It was his last mission. Never once did his Sergeant think that his words were prophetic. Boomer went to save lives and he did.

Corporal Andrew James Eykelenboom, “Boomer”, left this world a better place. He touched people’s lives and hearts with his strong Christian faith, his determination and his kindness, and he lived life fully - leaving us an example of who we need to be, and who we strive to be.

Important Dates and Accomplishments:

  • 3 Nov 1982 – Born
  • Dec 1990 – Skied his first Black Diamond
  • Aug 1999 – Moved to Comox
  • Jun 2001 – Graduated from High School
  • Oct 2001 – Attended Basic Training in the Canadian Armed Forces
  • Mar 2004 – Became an Uncle for the first time
  • Jul 2005 – Completed his QL 5 course
  • Jul 2005 – Had his tattoo, a symbol of his faith, put on his back
  • Feb 2006 – Left for Afghanistan
  • Mar 2006 – Sent pictures home, said that the mission was worthwhile
  • May 2006 – Spent his leave in Thailand, became certified as a diver
  • May 2006 – Saved the life of “Junior”, an Afghan interpreter
  • Jul 2006 – Became an Uncle for the second time
  • 6 Aug 2006 – Last phone call home, saying he was coming home soon
  • 11 Aug 2006 – Killed by a suicide bomber in Spin Boldak August 11, 2006