Memorial Day History with Chuck: Andy Rackow, CHS class of ’65, Naval Officer killed in Vietnam in 1968

Local historian Chuck Langerman provided us with the following information about Andy Charles Rackow, a 1965 graduate of Cheltenham High School, to honor his and others’ service this Memorial Day weekend.

Andy aspired to be a Navy doctor but was sidetracked by the conflict in Southeast Asia. He interrupted his medical studies at Penn State University and enlisted as a hospital corpsman. His unit was assigned to duty in Vietnam attached to the Marines. For many months Andy’s outfit was in the thick of some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

Andy was shot in the back and killed in the line of duty on August 6, 1968. He was in the very front of the battle aiding men who were badly wounded. He was awarded the Silver Star, one of the highest medals awarded by the Navy.  

At Cheltenham, Andy was involved in the World Affairs Club and the Swimming Club in addition to working on “The Cheltonian” staff.  Andy was the son of a Jenkintown doctor and the younger brother of the former late Cheltenham Township School Board member David Rackow.

From the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall:

Shortly after Andy’s death, our parents received a letter from one of his buddies. Excerpts from that truly remarkable, comforting note bear witness to Andy’s courage and the kind of person he was.

“I was with Andy the day he was hit. Your son was a brave man. He died because he valued the lives of the men and was willing to take any risk to help them. At the time he was hit, he was at the very front of the battle, helping a man who was badly wounded.

“More than one man is alive now because of Andy’s courage, and I wanted you to know how badly we all feel and what a great man your son really was.”

Andy’s bravery in action was recognized, as well, by his superior officers. He was awarded the Silver Star, one of the highest medals awarded by the Navy.

Andy was our brother but, in a sense, he and all the other brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country belong to all America. We would give anything to be able to tell him how proud we are of him. We may not all agree with everything our country is, but it is this country that gives us the very freedom we have to disagree – and the opportunity to make things better. And it has always been men and women like Andy who have preserved the gift of those freedoms.

We are forever proud of and in debt to Andy. We miss him.

From his brothers,
Julian P. Rackow
David M. Rackow

For all the latest news, follow us on Facebook or sign up for Glenside Local’s “Daily Buzz” newsletter here.