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James Anderson, Jr.
James Anderson, Jr., Medal of Honor recipient
Born (1947-01-22)January 22, 1947
Died February 28, 1967(1967-02-28) (aged 20)
Place of birth Los Angeles, California
Place of death Killed in action in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam
Allegiance United States
Service/branch USMC logo.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1966–1967
Rank Private First Class
Unit 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart

Private First Class James Anderson, Jr (January 22, 1947 - February 28, 1967) was a United States Marine who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for heroism while serving in Vietnam in February 1967. When his Medal of Honor was awarded on August 21, 1968, he became the first African-American U.S. Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor.[1][2]

Biography[edit | edit source]

Anderson was born on January 22, 1947, in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from senior high school, he attended Los Angeles Harbor Junior College for a year and a half.

Private Anderson left college to enlist in the United States Marine Corps on February 17, 1966 and received recruit training with the 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. He was promoted to private first class upon graduation from recruit training in August 1966. He then transferred to Camp Pendleton, California where he received further training with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment.

In December 1966, Private Anderson arrived in the Republic of Vietnam, where he served as a rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division in Quang Tri Province. On February 28, 1967 he was mortally wounded.

Private Anderson was interred at Lincoln Memorial Park in Carson, California (Plot L-6).[3]

Decorations[edit | edit source]

A complete list of his medals and decorations includes: the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, the Vietnamese Military Merit Medal, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Bronze star
Medal of Honor
Purple Heart National Defense Service Medal Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star
Vietnam Military Merit Medal Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm Vietnam Campaign Medal

Medal of Honor citation[edit | edit source]

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a rifleman, Second Platoon, Company F, Second Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division, in Vietnam on 28 February 1967. Company F was advancing in dense jungle northwest of Cam Lo in an effort to extract a heavily besieged reconnaissance patrol. Private First Class Anderson's platoon was the lead element and had advanced only about 200 meters when they were brought under extremely intense enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire. The platoon reacted swiftly, getting on line as best they could in the thick terrain, and began returning fire. Private First Class Anderson found himself tightly bunched together with the other members of the platoon only 20 meters from the enemy positions. As the fire fight continued several of the men were wounded by the deadly enemy assault. Suddenly, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the Marines and rolled alongside Private First Class Anderson's head. Unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, he reached out, grasped the grenade, pulled it to his chest and curled around it as it went off. Although several Marines received shrapnel from the grenade, his body absorbed the major force of the explosion. In this singularly heroic act, Private First Class Anderson saved his comrades from serious injury and possible death. His personal heroism, extraordinary valor, and inspirational supreme self-sacrifice reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.


In memory[edit | edit source]

The United States Navy prepositioning ship, USNS PFC James Anderson, Jr. (T-AK 3002) is named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient James Anderson, Jr.[4]

The name James Anderson, Jr. is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ("The Wall") on Panel 15E - Row 112,.[5]

James Anderson, Jr. Memorial Park in Carson, California, at the corner of Wilmington and University. was named after James Anderson, Jr.[6]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. "Selected August Dates of Marine Corps Historical Significance". This Month in History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. http://www.tecom.usmc.mil/HD/This_Month_History/08_August.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  2. Marine James Anderson Jr. is 1st Black Medal of Honor recipient, August 21 in History, Brainy History.
  3. findagrave.com record for PFC James Anderson Jr., 9 May 2002 (accessed 21 August 2012)
  4. "USNS PFC James Anderson, Jr. (T-AK-3002)". Navy Historical Center, Department of the Navy. http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-p/ak3002.htm. 
  5. "James Anderson, Jr.". mishalov.com. http://www.mishalov.com/Anderson_J.html. Retrieved 2006-07-17. 
  6. "Parks and Other Facilities in Carson". City of Carson. http://ci.carson.ca.us/content/department/parklibpo.asp. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

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