Two brothers each received Purple Heart in famous WWII battles, One in Iwo Jima in South Pacific; other in the Battle of the Bulge

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Brothers George (on right) and LeRoy Anderson
Brothers George (on right) and LeRoy Anderson

Tualatin resident Marc Anderson’s father and his uncle each received a Purple Heart for their service in famous World War II battles.  Marc’s father, George Anderson was a Marine at Iwo Jima in the South Pacific.  George’s brother, Leroy Anderson, was an Army soldier in the Battle of the Bulge in Europe.

The Battle of the Bulge was Germany’s last major offensive, conducted in winter conditions in Belgium. France and Luxemburg on the Western Front. It caught the Allies by surprise.
The Battle of the Bulge was Germany’s last major offensive, conducted in winter conditions in Belgium. France and Luxemburg on the Western Front. It caught the Allies by surprise.

Marc said his dad did not talk much about Iwo Jima. His father was wounded in a pre-dawn attack on February 27, 1945 when a Japanese soldier threw a hand grenade into his foxhole where he was operating a machine gun. All the other Marines there were killed. His military records say he was wounded with a shell fragment on his right leg, another shell fragment on his left upper back and shoulder, and shell fragment scars on his back, left hand and face. After nine months in the hospital, he was discharged from active duty.  The VA sent him to  Syracuse University under the GI Bill to study architecture. He later transferred to the University of Oklahoma where he studied with Bruce Goff, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s protégées. He got Mr. Wright his only high-rise job, the Price Tower in Bartlesville, OK, by introducing him to the owner, Mr. Price, and the contractor. He became an accomplished architect in Ohio and Pittsburgh and worked all over the country.

Marc’s uncle is 95 and lives in Connecticut. When I talked to Leroy by telephone, he enthusiastically shared his story with me. He told me that after basic training and testing, the Army sent him to college in Potsdam, New York to study engineering for two years. That was shortened to 18 months when he and his classmates were told to pack their bags, the Army needed to prepare them for battle in Europe. He trained as a crew member for a 55 mm anti-tank gun on a truck. Leroy was sent to the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium during the winter to serve in the Battle of the Bulge, the largest and bloodiest fought by the United States in Europe in WWII. The truck he was assigned to went on patrol for a week and then returned.  On his first day back, Leroy said he pulled guard duty where he suffered frostbite. He was put on a “wounded train” and sent to a hospital in Paris to recover where he was required to shave off his trademark mustache, as well as his beard. He remembers hearing of FDR’s death while on a tour in Paris.  He spent some time doing Mess Hall duty in England until offered a wonderful assignment. After finishing high school, he had worked for an uncle who ran an art gallery and auction in Washington, DC. That qualified him to help catalog and sell recovered confiscated Nazi items stored in the German embassy in London by the Allies. He fondly remembers that he wore civilian clothes for eight months with that duty until returned to the states on the aircraft carrier USS Wasp which crossed the Atlantic in six days, loaded with servicemen returning home. He was discharged about the same time as his brother George.  Someone advised him to check with the VA for a pension because of his injury. The VA awarded him a $10 monthly disability payment in 1946 which has grown to $130 a month.  He went on to establish a very successful retail business, Anderson Sales, in Ashtabula, Ohio.

Marc has lived in Tualatin for ten years. He is an environmental engineer and certified water right examiner. He also is involved in food, gardening, and health, and has worked with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine on projects to reverse type 2 diabetes with diet. He participates in the city program growing food for our food bank to distribute to low income families.  Marc and our country all had tremendous role models with the two brothers and other military men and women as well as family members who underwent rationing and other Homefront sacrifices for the war effort, were part of what Tom Brokaw calls “The Greatest Generation”,  by demonstrating extraordinary character.