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Two receive 1st Lt. Andrew K. Stern award

Jan Garrison

CGA, CMA rowers honored


September 23, 2021

Two members of the Culver Academies rowing team shared the 1st Lt. Andrew K. Stern Scholarship and Rowing Award. Culver Girls Academy senior Brenna Cotter (Winnetka, Illinois) and Culver Military Academy first classman Anh Dao (Lumberton, Texas) were named as the recipients during an afternoon ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 16.

The scholarship is given annually to seniors and first classmen on the rowing team who best exemplify the traits that Stern exhibited: “Dedication, Honesty, Joyfulness, Respect, and Integrity.” Rowing program manager Peter Miller said those were the five central character traits that guided every step of Stern’s life.

Miller explained to the team that “humans have named their boats to honor individuals in hopes for good luck and safe travels across the seas. Culver rowing holds true to this tradition.”

Five Culver boats carry the names of those who have made a significant impact on the rowing program. Stern’s name is printed across the bow of one of the girls’ varsity eights, he said, and this his story.

Stern, a Marine, died Sept. 16, 2004, while serving in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, on Sept. 16, 2004. The commander of the Third Platoon, Company B, 1st Tank Battalion, Stern was positioning his tank between the members of a construction platoon building a road and an improvised explosive device when it detonated.

“His selfless act shielded and saved the lives of many of his fellow Marines working that day,” Miller said.



CGA rowers carry the shell named for Stern out of the White-DeVries Rowing Center.


A 1998 graduate, he was a four-year cadet in Battery C, and rowed during all four years. He was a co-captain on the rowing team and the Artillery battalion commander during his senior year. He continued to row at the University of Tennessee, where he was captain of the rowing team and a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Soon, he was coaching the novice teams at the university. After graduating from Tennessee in 2002, “Lt. Stern was able to realize his lifelong dream when he was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps,” Miller said.

“The names on our boats are examples of the many living memories that span generations and provide Culver its enduring foundation and character,” he added. “While many of us may have not had the privilege of meeting the person behind each of these names, we can all still learn their story and carry it with us. Lt. Stern’s life is a living story worth remembering, not just for what he did but also for how he lived. Dedication, Integrity, Honesty, Respect, and Joyfulness.”

In announcing Cotter as the CGA recipient, rowing coach Kerry Hassall said her hard work and humble nature “is incredible. She demonstrates all five of these (Stern’s) qualities in everything that she does, whether leading on campus as dorm chair or being a four-year senior and four-year rower.”

While presenting the CMA award, rowing coach Randy Dam said, “Anh is the quiet, relentlessly driven and supportive teammate that will do absolutely whatever needs to be done to help his teammates be successful. He is the consummate quiet leader that puts in the work but doesn’t rush forward to get nearly as much credit as he deserves.”

The rowing award to honor Stern’s memory was initiated in the fall of 2006. To date, he is the only Culver alumnus to lose his life in the Global War on Terror. He was 24. He is also remembered with a Gold Star Flag.

Miller told the group before they headed on the water: “Like many of you, few things made Lt. Stern happier than to grab hold of a shell with eight of his best friends and go out for a hard row on the crystal water of Lake Maxinkuckee. So, as a living tribute to 1st Lt. Andrew Stern, ready all, row.”

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