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89th AS pilot honored with hall of fame induction

Maj. Andrew Pierce, flight commander and C-17 instructor pilot, 89th Airlift Squadron, will be inducted into the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 6, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio, for his athletic accomplishments.

Maj. Andrew Pierce, flight commander and C-17 instructor pilot, 89th Airlift Squadron, will be inducted into the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 6, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio, for his athletic accomplishments. An OSU alumnus, Pierce is being honored for his men’s track and field accolades, joining the approximately 450 other athletes, coaches and administrators inducted since the hall’s 1977 inception. (Courtesy photo)

Maj. Andrew Pierce, flight commander and C-17 instructor pilot, 89th Airlift Squadron, will be inducted into the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 6, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio, for his athletic accomplishments.

Maj. Andrew Pierce, flight commander and C-17 instructor pilot, 89th Airlift Squadron, will be inducted into the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 6, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio, for his athletic accomplishments. An OSU alumnus, Pierce is being honored for his men’s track and field accolades, joining the approximately 450 other athletes, coaches and administrators inducted since the hall’s 1977 inception. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Staff Sgt. Darrell Sydnor)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --

Maj. Andrew Pierce, flight commander and C-17 instructor pilot, 89th Airlift Squadron, will be inducted into the Ohio State University Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 6, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio, for his athletic accomplishments. An OSU alumnus, Pierce is being honored for his men’s track and field accolades, joining the approximately 450 other athletes, coaches and administrators inducted since the hall’s 1977 inception.  

At the height of his athletic career, Pierce could run 400 meters (equivalent to one lap on a quarter-mile track) in 45 seconds. Throughout college, he placed numerous times in Big 10 competitions, became a member of the U.S. team for the World University Games, and competed in the 2000 Olympic team trials.

“The way I was raised, no matter what you do, you work hard at it and do your best, but stay humble,” Pierce said.

A Yellow Springs native, Pierce remembers driving by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a child. In high school, he played varsity basketball and ran track, leading to the offer of a full scholarship to attend Ohio State University, running track.

While a student there, he met his now-wife and majored in aviation aircraft systems.

“I always wanted to fly airplanes,” he recalled. “That was always the end goal.”

In 2001, he earned two gold medals at the World University Games in Beijing, then graduated later that year.

 “After college, I signed a three year contract to run professionally for Adidas. I was a flight instructor for Ohio State in the mornings, and in the afternoons, I ran,” he said. “It was the best of both worlds.”

Pierce says that running for Adidas helped satiate the travel bug in him. He competed in Canada, Cuba, China, France and Trinidad and Tobago.

“Each day, I found myself running around Ohio State’s campus, looking up at the planes flying overhead and knowing that should be me up there,” he said.

It was time for a change. He called his Adidas agent in 2003, thanked him for the experience, and told him he no longer wanted to run competitively.

“I enjoyed that season of my life, but after a while, my heart wasn’t in it anymore,” Pierce said.

He commissioned through Officer Training School in 2005, joining the 89th Airlift Squadron. He also took a job flying for Delta Airlines in 2014.

“My mindset is, ‘I’m going to do the best I can while this chapter is open, and when it’s done, I’m going to close out that chapter with no regrets.’ I try to pass that message on to my kids, too,” Pierce said.

He and his wife have two daughters and two sons. His eldest child will be a freshman at Ohio State this fall, the recipient of a partial academic scholarship.

“Whatever you do, be passionate about it,” Pierce said.