Coast Guard Family Month: Adopted by America

Lt. Cmdr. Charles McAndrews poses for a photo next to photos from his childhood. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles McAndrews poses for a photo next to photos from his childhood. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Written by: Petty Officer 2nd Class J.P. Rios

Signs of age spread generously across the face of Lt. Cmdr. Charles McAndrews, his forehead creasing in thought as he remembers his adoption into not only a loving family, but a great nation.

“I don’t know much, only what I’ve researched,” said McAndrews.

Born Aug. 27, 1961, in Frankfurt am Main, Federal Republic of Germany, he was given the birth name Holger Lorenz. Less than a year later, he was adopted by Charles and Doris McAndrews of Flint, Michigan, who then changed his name to Charles McAndrews just like his adoptive father.

Charles Sr. was a career U.S. Air Force officer who was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. Doris McAndrews was studying to be a registered nurse. Later, the McAndrews family was transferred to Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. On June 9, 1965, McAndrews became a naturalized U.S. citizen at the U.S. District Court of Little Rock.

“My adopted father ended up spending 24 years as an Air Force officer, retiring at the rank of colonel,” said McAndrews. “He was my inspiration to become more patriotic, and the fact that I became a naturalized citizen inspired me to do something of a higher calling for my country.”

A newspaper clipping from when Lt. Cmdr. Charles McAndrews was adopted. Image courtesy of McAndrews.

A newspaper clipping from when Lt. Cmdr. Charles McAndrews was adopted. Image courtesy of McAndrews.

Inspiration also stemmed from McAndrews’ mother who has positively influenced him both as his mother and a grandmother to his children.

McAndrews enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 1980. He spent three years on active duty, three years inactive reserve and was stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Fort Gordon, Georgia; and with the 58th Signal Company in Landstuhl, Germany.

“After serving my time in the Army, I just felt it was time for a change,” said McAndrews.

He found his new home with the U.S. Coast Guard, joining in 1988. Starting his career as a non-rate at the Brooklyn Supply Center in New York, McAndrews worked his way up the ranks to chief petty officer then to warrant officer and later he was commissioned as an officer.

“My adopted father always taught me to take those hard jobs, those jobs that nobody else wants for whatever reason and excel at them,” said McAndrews. “I made my living in the Coast Guard by following my father’s example, by working hard and always giving it my best.”

Today, McAndrews is stationed at the Coast Guard Seventeenth District, serving as the administration division chief.

“I’ve served now for 31 years, a feat that not many are able to say they have reached,” said McAndrews. “My life has been set up from the beginning and if it weren’t for me being adopted, who knows who I would be today.”

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