Pfc James Anderson, Jr.
United States Marine Corps
First U. S. Marine African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor
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.
BiographyAnderson 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).
DecorationsA 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.
Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS JAMES ANDERSON, JR.UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
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./S/ LYNDON B. JOHNSON
In memoryThe 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.
The name James Anderson, Jr. is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ("The Wall") on Panel 15E - Row 112.
James Anderson, Jr. Memorial Park in Carson, California, at the corner of Wilmington and University. was named after James Anderson, Jr.