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Those close to National Guard Sgt. Andrew Seabrooks say the Richmond Hill native lived for two things: his family and to save their beloved Richmond Hill house from debt collectors.
On Saturday, the 36-year-old father gave up his life to make sure that those two loves would have a secure future. Seabrooks was killed in Kandahar City, Afghanistan when the vehicle his troop was riding in encountered an IED and was shot at by terrorists, the Department of Defense said.
Although he was in the military for a long time, the soldier's family said he was serving two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan because his house had gone into foreclosure and his mother could not find a way to pay off the debt.
"He went to war to save our home and died in someone else's," said a teary eyed Gloria Hedges, who identified herself as his niece and lives in the house at 109-47 133rd St.
Seabrooks' mother died three years ago, leaving the home to him, Hedges, her son Xavier, and Seabrooks' older sister Melissa, who has Down's syndrome. The solider's niece said he had called her Friday and sounded excited because he was set to return to the United States for a July 4 break from his six-month tour.
"He said...I'm coming home," said Hedges, who was wearing his dogtags around her neck and had gotten a tattoo of his name, birth and death dates wrapped around a cross just hours before.
Born and raised in Richmond Hill, Seabrooks, or as he was commonly know as "Drew," had six children who lived in New York and Virginia. Darnisha Frazier, 34, of Far Rockaway, who is the mother of his eldest son, Andrew Frazier, 15, remembered him as a friendly man who took time to help others.
She recalled how he would welcome youngsters and even older members of the community into his house and help them stay out of trouble by giving them household chores to keep them busy.
"He had kids of his own, so he knew how to keep the kids on the right track," she said.
His son Andrew said he was always close with his father as they played handball games or watched episodes of his favorite sitcoms like "Family Guy" and "Martin."
"He was a good man. He always told me to do right from wrong," the teen said as he held back tears.
As the family prepared to make arrangements for Seabrooks' funeral, they vowed to do all they could to make sure his dream to save the family home didn't die.
"I'm not letting this home go," Hedges said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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