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Medal of Honor recipient sacrificed life for country

26 Feb 2009 | Cpl. Daniel Lutz

There have been many heroes in the history of the United States. This Marine, in particular, accomplished in an instant, what most people will never do in a life time.

Pfc. James Anderson, Jr. was the first black Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor, giving his life to save his fellow Marines in Vietnam on Feb. 28, 1967.

Born in Los Angeles,  Anderson attended Los Angeles Harbor Junior College for a year and a half before enlisting in the Marine Corps Feb. 17, 1966. Anderson attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. Upon graduation, Anderson was promoted from private to the rank of private first class.

After basic training, Anderson received further instruction on Camp Pendleton, where he was attached to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment.

When Anderson arrived in Vietnam in December 1966, he was serving as a rifleman in Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, operating in the Quan Tri Province.

Anderson was not alive to see the outcome of his sacrifice, but he made it with out hesitation.

According to his Medal of Honor citation, the platoon Anderson served in was on a mission to extract a heavily besieged reconnaissance patrol north of Cam Lo, Vietnam.

As the patrol was attacked, Anderson found himself in the prone, exchanging fire with enemy combatants when an enemy grenade landed next to his head. He quickly grabbed the grenade and wrapped himself around it to absorb the blast, saving the lives of the Marines around him.

Anderson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on Aug. 21, 1968.

This was not the only recognition in store for Anderson. In 1983, the U.S. Navy showed its appreciation for the heroic Marine and chartered the USNS Pfc. James Anderson Jr.

The state of California also recognized this courageous Marine for his gallantry. Citizens of Carson established the James Anderson Jr. Memorial Park, situated at the corner of Wilmington Avenue and University Avenue.

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