COL. AMAURY GANDIA (Ret.)
Apr 11, 1980 • Died in Arecibo, PR
Amaury Manuel Gandia was born to Alberto and Juana Gandia, 4 March 1909, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. There he attended school through three years of high school. As a young boy his dream was West Point and Puerto Rico’s 65th Infantry. He joined the Puerto Rico National Guard as soon as possible and attended CMTC in San Juan for two years. After high school—preparing for West Point—he went to Stanton Preparatory School in Cornwall, New York for sixteen months and entered the Military Academy in July 1929.
At West Point only instructors called him Gandia. To the Corps he was an affectionate “Spic;” and to girl friends an endearing “Mahatma.” His social life was as important as the academic and professional. So, at West Point, he chose a balanced life rather than “boning” academic excellence toward a high class standing.
After graduation Gandia returned to his beloved Puerto Rico and the 65th Infantry where he had started military service in high school. Amaury wasted no time in marrying Antonia Marques (Toni), his teen-age sweetheart; and there his son Albert was born. He remained there until July 1936, when he was ordered to the 2d Infantry at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. After a year he attended the Regular Infantry Course at the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia. Following Benning, in 1938 he was assigned to the 34th Infantry, Fort Meade, Maryland where he remained until 1940. During this time he took a special course in transportation at the Quartermaster School, Holabird Quartermaster Depot, Baltimore, Maryland.
Having been “away too long from Puerto Rico,” Gandia returned as a battalion commander to the 65th Infantry, April 1940. He also served as ground defense officer of the Sixth Air Force. During this tour his daughter Antonia was born. In 1943 he returned to Fort Benning as an instructor until ordered to Fort Leavenworth for the General Staff Class in 1945. Following Leavenworth he commanded the Puerto Rico 295th Infantry Regiment in Panama until 1946 when he was sent to Bolivia as deputy chief, Army Mission. Here his daughter Carmen was born in 1947.
Gandia returned to the US in 1949 and was assigned to Headquarters, First Army at Governors Island, New York. He attended the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia in 1950, which was followed by a short tour with G2, Department of the Army, at the Pentagon until 1951 when he was ordered to Spain to serve with the Military Assistance Advisory Group (M A AG). In 1958 Gandia returned to Puerto Rico where he served as deputy commander, Antilles Command until retirement, February 1960.
Gandia’s value in Puerto Rico to the Army was clearly recognized by the repetition and continuity of his assignments. He returned to the US primarily for education and special training. And, in turn, his devotion to and record in the Army, especially in Puerto Rico, enshrined his name in the annals of the Puerto Rico National Guard. Its new armory in Arecibo has been named after him and a large photograph of him prominently emplaced.
If one word could characterize Amaury if would be LOVE: his beloved island, Puerto Rico; his passion for family; and his love for the Army. It would be difficult to rate their relative importance to him. All were integrated into a very full life while attaining an enviable military career. “Spic” to his classmates personified a Spanish “Don.” Proud. Utterly wrapped up in his family. Fiercely loyal to friends whom he helped unstintingly and supported sometimes to his own detriment. Devotion to and integrity in the Army were complete. His boyhood dream was realized and exemplified by the West Point code DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY. A joyful, gregarious, industrious personality who lived life to its fullest. And for whom the Corps can say WELL DONEI
After retirement in 1960, Gandia entered the family’s sugar business, finally retiring in 1967 to enjoy life in Arecibo with his wife Toni, and his growing family. He joined the Long Gray Line from a heart attack in April 1980. He is survived by his wife Antonia who lives in Arecibo with the younger daughter, Carmen Denton, and her two sons. Their older daughter, Antonia who lives in Granada, Spain with her two sons and two daughters. Their son Albert lives j San Juan with his two daughters. Gandia also survived by a sister, Angeles, who lives in Arecibo.