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ANDERSON, CARL EDWARD JR
Captain, United States Army
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: April 1967-22 September 1970
DATE OF BIRTH: 08/17/1941
DATE OF DEATH: 09/15/1970
DATE OF INTERMENT: 09/22/1970
BURIED AT: SECTION 46 SITE 794-19
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Courtesy of Nancy Anderson Judge:
Our father was adopted, so when my brother was born, it was very special day. He was the first flesh and blood relative our father had ever known. This made my brother's death especially painful. Before my brother left for Vietnam, he told us that he planned on coming home, but if he didn't, he had lived a full life. He said we needed to care for the young men going who hadn't experienced as much in life as he had.
Inspired by my brother's words, my husband and I chaired a program with the Canton, Ohio, Jaycees that raised money to bring Stark County, Ohio servicemen, serving in Vietnam, all of the way home for their R&R's combined with a week's leave. We brought 17 servicemen home under this program. Families were reunited, one got married, a new father got to see his son. The stories go on and on. It was a labor of love for us and for the entire community. It was exactly what my brother had hoped we would do. I appreciate this opportunity. I want my 5 grandchildren to be able to find their uncle's name and information on why is is buried in such a distinguished place. I want them and others to realize that the cost of freedom is never free. I have attached some of the citations if they would be of help.
Carl Edward Anderson, Jr. was born on August 17, 1941 in Homestead, Pennsylvania, to Carl Edward Anderson and Dolores (Leadbeater) Anderson. He spent his childhood years in Plainfield, New Jersey, and graduated from Evergreen School. He then went on to the Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey, where he graduated in 1959. He wasn't big enough to play football at Peddie, so he took up the Sousaphone and played in the school band. He was very active in athletics, playing Little League in Plainfield and Babe Ruth League in Williamstown, Massachusetts. He was a solid, caring person.
After Peddie, he continued his education at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he was catcher on the Lord Jeff's baseball team. He also played goalie in ice hockey. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
After Amherst, he went to Law School at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, graduating in 1966. While at Stanford he was active in the College Young Republican Club at the local and state level. He was founder and President of the Vietnam Defense Committee, a group of students who actively supported American policy in Vietnam. He was also editor of The Vietnam Bulletin, and The Stanford Republican.
After graduation he went to work at the law firm of Simpson, Thatcher and Bartlett in New York City. He believed very strongly in his country and the importance of freedom. He wanted to enlist in the army, but there was some concern about a test given during his physical. He returned to Canton, Ohio, where his family was living, and, at his own expense, had the tests rerun. The results deemed him fit to serve, and he enlisted in in the Army in April, 1967. He went to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and his artillery training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he was designated an outstanding trainee. He the entered officer candidate school at Fort Sill and was graduated 3rd in his class. He was again designated an outstanding trainee.
He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant March 5, 1968 and was sent to Fort Hood, Texas. for heavy artillery training. He then received primary helicopter training at Fort Wolters, Texas, and received advanced helicopter training at Fort Stewart, Georgia. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in April, 1969 and was named to the commandant's list.
He left for Vietnam in May, 1969 where he served with the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta. When that unit was withdrawn, he opted to stay in Vietnam and was reassigned to the 25th Infantry, between Saigon and the Cambodian border.
During his time in Vietnam, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters, two Army Commendation Medals, one with 'V' for Valor and The Air Medal with 27 oak leaf clusters among others.
He was sent to Walter Reed Medical Center in November, 1969 and died there on September 15, 1970. During his stay at Walter Reed, he was promoted to Captain. He was survived by his parents, his sister Nancy Anderson Judge, her husband Rowland H. Judge, his nieces Amy and Kristen Judge, and his brother, David Anderson.
It was the season of joy and celebration. The lamp posts lining Main Street were adorned with wreathes and candy canes. All of the stores in the mall were decorated in red and green and gold and silver. Happy sounds resounded. There were the excited voices of the shoppers, carols were playing, the Salvation Army was ringing their bells, accompanied by their brass band, and people were trying to find the perfect gifts for family and friends. The ground outside was white with snow. Snow forts and snowmen stood on guard in the neighbors' yards. Everyone was into decorating their houses, their yards and their trees. Lights were everywhere, along with Santa and his reindeer, nativity scenes and snowmen. The traditional carol sing was held in front of the Hoover Company, around the huge, brightly decorated tree in downtown North Canton, complete with hot mulled cider. The Hoover High School choir was leading the singing, and everyone was preparing for the most anticipated holiday of the year. Neighbors were greeting neighbors, families and friends were harmonizing, and there was no doubt about it; the time was fast approaching. Christmas was almost here! In the past we had caroled with our neighbors from 7th Street all of the way to the center of town. Our first caroling experience was in 1967 when our daughter Amy was only four months old. We dressed her in red and green and bundled her up in her carriage. The Christmas spirit started very early at our house, usually at birth!
This was the time of the year that had been magical at our house. The baking started in November and didn't end until Christmas Eve. Relatives, friends, neighbors, even acquaintances knew there was always something good to eat at our house during the Holidays.
It was also a time for getting together. Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without the whole gang. My older brother had always come home for Christmas, no matter where he was living. His arrival was the most important event, except for Santa's. Actually, as we got older, I think we looked forward more to Bub's arrival than we did to Santa's. The red carpet had always been rolled out in anticipation of Bub. In December of 1912, my father was adopted from the Zoar Home in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. His adoptive parents, Carl and Esther Anderson, were told they couldn't have any children. They adopted my Dad, but they didn't tell him he was adopted until he was 19. It came as quite a shock to him. He had no idea that they were not his birth parents. After my Dad's adoption, they went on to have five children of their own. Although they were a wonderful adoptive family who loved him very much, the arrival of his first born child, his first flesh and blood relative, added a new dimension to his life. My father loved all three of his children, but he had a very special relationship with 'Bub'. Dad listened to what Bub said. He learned as much from my brother in the ways of the world as my brother learned from him in how to be a responsible adult. My father also loved Christmas. I sometimes thought that he had the most Christmas spirit of anyone on the planet, short of Santa himself! Money was tight when he was a child. Christmas centered entirely around the church, and gifts were utilitarian, like new underwear. Since my Dad had been successful in business, he sometimes went a little overboard. He even had theme Christmases. One year was the golden Christmas and another was an Irish Christmas. We never knew what he was going to do next. Two weeks before Christmas, on my father's birthday, December 10th, he always wrote out checks to the many charities he supported. He made these gifts in honor of his adoptive parents, in thanks for what they had given him, a loving home with caring people. You would have never known what my father's religion was by looking at his check book, because these checks went to groups from many denominations. He was, however, especially attached to the Salvation Army. He believed that they did a wonderful job of helping those who needed it the most. One year they were falling short in raising the money needed to buy all of the food necessary to ensure a Christmas dinner on every table. My father wrote out a check to cover the shortfall so that no one was left without a holiday feast. To thank him, after their Sunday service, the entire congregation from the Salvation Army came to our house to serenade our family with carols, complete with their brass band. One of the little girls singing was about seven. She had on a cotton dress, no socks or boots, no mittens, no hat, and her light weight jacket only had one button. When my Mother asked her how she kept warm, she responded, "I just held on to one of the Christmas lights on your tree by the front door." My Mom sent us all scurrying to find scarves, mittens, gloves, hats... Then she got out her big soup pot and started to make hot chocolate. All of the boxes of Christmas candy under the tree were opened. We had a real party! My Mother was concerned about the little girl, so my Dad took the Salvation Army Major aside and asked who the little girl was. She was new in town, and the Major really didn't know much about her. Dad arranged for the Major's wife to take the little girl shopping for clothes the next day. We didn't know about this until Christmas morning when, in a child's handwriting, a thank-you note was hanging from our tree.
I carried my father's Christmas "gene". I absolutely adored this holiday. I wondered why it only came once a year. When I was in college, I spent time working as a volunteer with the Salvation Army, wearing one of their bonnets and visiting shut-ins with small gifts. I went to one nursing home and was surprised when one lady told me how much the visit meant. She said she hadn't seen her son in years, but the Salvation Army never forgot her. I also voluteered in their toy shop, helping families select just the right gift for their child. One year I even dressed up as Santa for their Christmas party. I needed a few pillows to pull it off, but even then, some of the older kids recognized my shoes! However, they didn't say anything in front of the little kids who truly believed I was Santa. When these youngsters looked in my eyes, for a moment I felt what it must be like to be a magical character, capable of fulfilling the wishes of the believers. It was an awesome experience!
This was the holiday I lived for. The season started for me in the summer, and kicked into full gear the day after Thanksgiving. I loved to shop, to smell the scents of the holiday from pine trees to cookies, and to sing the carols. I was a whiz at wrapping presents and decorating every nook and cranny of our house. I sang in my church choir and loved the midnight service on Christmas Eve. If we came out of church at midnight to snow on the ground, it was perfect. The only problem I had with Christmas was that I had to wake up on December 26th and wait another year for it to happen again!
This year, however, our Christmas was going to be different... very different. Our daughters, Amy who was now 3 1/2 and her little sister Kristen at 11/2, were really getting into the spirit. They saw the lights around the neighborhood and heard the songs. At Sunday School they were told the story of Christ's birth. They were singing "Away in a Manger" and talking about the miracle of Christ being born in a stable. Their friends were talking about their visits with Santa at the mall, and the gifts they wanted him to bring to them. My girls kept asking, "When are we going to see Santa Claus?" And I kept telling them, "Sometime..." Christmas was fast approaching, like a runaway freight train.
Our neighborhood was transforming itself into a fantasy land. Houses were outlined in lights, trees were illuminated in yards, spotlights shone on front doors, lavishly decorated. The entire area was waiting in anticipation for the big day... except for our house. Our house was stark and bare. There were no decorations. There were no colored lights. There was no tree. There were no Christmas cookies or fruit cakes, no stockings, no garlands, no wreathes. It was unlike any previous Christmas. There was no spirit... no enthusiasm... no excitement. Although we were living in the same house as last year, although our little family was the same as last year, only a little older.... Although everything seemed to be the same ... Nothing was.
In fact, nothing was, nor ever would be, the same again. I was not looking forward to this day in 1970. I wanted time to stand still, but it wouldn't. I wanted Christmas to be postponed or canceled, but it wasn't. I wanted people to turn off their brightly colored lights, stop singing their carols, and quit wishing me a Merry Christmas. I wanted to lock myself inside my house and ignore the outside world and its Christmas celebrations.. This year I was dreading my most anticipated holiday of the year. December 25th was coming. I didn’t know what to do, or how to stop it from coming. But there was no way I could face the inevitability of Christmas. At least not this year!
Early Spring, 1969
Spring is a wonderful season in Ohio. The grass is green and the crocus and daffodils are peeking out. The robins are back, the cardinals are making new nests and the squirrels are running up and down the trees, jumping from limb to limb. Everyone seems to be happy to be alive. It is a season of rebirth, and hope for the future. It is an energizing season and makes the wintery days of snow, sleet and slush fade from memory. The air smells fresher, the colors are brighter, and nothing seems impossible. Bicycles come out from their winter slumbers, baseball diamonds spring to life, and the swings in the parks echo with screams of delight from the children, glad to be outside once again. It is a time when anything is possible and dreams can come true.
In the spring of 1969, the world was a little off balance. War was raging in Vietnam, protesters were picketing on college campuses, and our nation was divided and confused. Many people felt that there was no clear right or wrong. Some people didn't know exactly how they felt, or what they believed. My brother didn't have that problem. He knew for a fact that freedom was not free. My older brother, Carl E. Anderson, Jr., had spent his high school years at the Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey, and he had earned his undergraduate degree from Amherst College in Massachusetts.
In fact, he was so determined to do something that would bring liberty to more people that after his graduation from Stanford University Law School in 1966, he enlisted in the army. He declined an appointment to JAG and after basic training, OCS, and flight school, he was ready to do what had to be done. My older brother, 'Bub', was leaving Ohio for the Republic of Vietnam. Although he was sure he'd come back home, he reminded us before he left that he had lived a full life. He had a few regrets, but mostly he wanted us to remember the good times we had had together. He talked about our Christmas celebrations, and he was sorry he was going to miss this one. But he said that there was always next year! He was going to be joining the 9th infantry division in the Mekong Delta. He was looking forward to being a part of making a difference in the lives of the people in Vietnam. He believed in people's rights, and he felt that this was what he had to do. I was proud of his decision, but afraid for his safety.
Now it was time to say goodbye. As we stood on the tarmac at Canton/Akron Airport, I found it hard to breathe. Although I had known for a long time that this day was coming, I had trouble believing that it had actually arrived. I had to be strong on the outside, but on the inside I was falling a part. As we waved goodbye, Amy held my hand tightly. She really had a unique relationship with her Uncle Bub. They had made an instant connection from the day she was born. Our second child was due in August, and I hoped that child would get to know Uncle ‘Bub’. He had to come back to us. I was proud of my brother, and yet I was also concerned. He was my hero... my idol. He was dependable, intelligent, good looking and athletic. He was an all-around good guy.
Late Spring, 1969
We heard from him right away, and he seemed to be adjusting well to the tropical climate. He told us not to worry, but of course we did. We tried to keep the news to him upbeat, which wasn't always easy. He could usually sense when things weren't right. My pregnancy was not going well. I didn't want to say anything to him as he had enough to worry about. Some of my doctors felt I should not have this second baby. I was born with spina bifida and not expected to live. They said that having one healthy child was nothing short of a miracle. They were afraid I would not survive another birth. I was definitely not listening to them. There was no way I was going to end this pregnancy! I opted instead to stay off my feet until the baby was big enough to be delivered. Since Amy was one and a half years old, it wasn't easy. How could I keep up with her and stay off of my feet? Well, where there's a will there's a way! Our living room was turned into a giant playpen. All of her favorite toys and books were placed in there, and we settled into a daily routine. My husband, Rollie, made peanut butter sandwiches before he left for work, and he also poured two glasses of milk. He then placed them on a low shelf in the refrigerator. I stayed on the couch in the living room where Amy now had all of her toys to play with. She was amazing! At noon, she would bring the sandwiches and milk into the living room where we had our daily picnic. Then she would curl up beside me, and we would look at books until we both fell asleep. Sometimes she woke up before I did, but she never strayed from the room and her toys. Taking care of me was her first priority. Although Amy was not even two, she showed her true colors.
We continued to be upbeat in our letters to Bub, as there really was nothing he could do from Vietnam. He wrote to him regularly and sent lots of pictures. We even took one of Amy's pictures and had it made into a jigsaw puzzle. We wanted to do whatever we could to make his time there go fast. Earlier he had told us how much the Vietnamese children liked to get candy, so we had begun sending him individually wrapped hard candy. We kept sending him the candy to throw to the children when he landed in their villages. He liked to see their smiling faces. My husband also found a way to keep his spirits up. Every month, Rollie got 'Playboy' the day it came on the newsstands. Then he sent it off right away to Bub. That way, my brother had it three weeks before it arrived in the PX. He said he could trade it for just about anything he wanted!
Eventually the doctors placed me in the hospital to await the birth of our baby. We were on a day to day schedule, not knowing exactly when the birth day would be. They were afraid of nerve damage to me because of the way the baby was laying, so it was decided to do a c-section. Now it was just a matter of the baby being big enough. Finally, the day came for our baby’s birth. It was touch and go for both of us. My husband had to wait by the operating room door to make a decision if they had to choose between mother or baby. The doctors told him that at the end of the day he could have a baby, a wife, both or neither. It was the first and only time my husband ever took anything to calm his nerves! I began to hemorrage during the surgery, and the baby, Kristen, had mucus in her breathing passages. They worked feverishly on both of us. Kristen was placed in a special unit in intensive care to help her breathe, and I was returned to my room. For two days they kept telling me that she was okay, but I didn't believe them. I was too weak to be moved, and she wasn't stabilized enough to be brought to me. It was a very difficult time for us, but thankfully we all survived! As soon as I was up to it, I wrote Bub a long letter, explaining what had been happening, but he had sensed that things weren’t right. Before he ever received my letter, I received a beautiful bouquet of tropical flowers from him! The amazing part was that the card with the flowers was in his own handwriting! He had ordered them in Vietnam and signed the card there. The card then went to Hawaii where it was placed with the flowers, that were then sent to me by air. It was such a wonderful surprise.
Things were good. His letters were upbeat and told of his many experiences. He praised the young men he served with, and he continued to believe that what he was doing was right and just. I had always been proud of my big brother: I was in the stands when he played Little League in Plainfield and Babe Ruth baseball for Donelli's Sunoco in Williamstown. I watched when he played catcher for Amherst, the Lord Jeff’s... After all, he was my big brother. And now he was willing to risk it all to pass on the freedom he cherished to people who had never known what freedom was, and to protect that same freedom for those people who had always had it and yet had taken it for granted.
After trial and error, we found out that there was no guarantee about when a package shipped to Vietnam would arrive. A pecan pie my Mother sent one time took two weeks while another pie, exactly the same, might took four. One thing we knew, we had to allow a long time to get packages to Vietnam, especially for special occassions. The candy we sent regularly took weeks to months to arrive. I realized that if I was going to do something for Christmas, I had to get busy! Since Kristen was born early, July 12, 1969 by C-section, in August I was ready to venture out on a quest. We only had one car, so after driving my husband to work, the girls and I hit the mall. With Amy by my side, and Kristen in her carriage, we were determined to find the perfect Christmas present for a Yankee serving in Vietnam. It had to be unique. It had to bring a touch of Christmas past to someone serving on the other side of the world. No electric shavers, or tool kits... No cologne or any other routine gift. It had to be REALLY special. We soon found out that this was easier said than done.
We went to every store in the mall. We walked down every aisle, asked clerks for advice, and tried our hardest to be creative. How could we expect help from starngers when we didn't even know where to start? I thought about plastic poinsettias, since we always had the live ones around the house during the holidays. But, for all I knew, they might grow wild in Vietnam. Candy? We were already sending boxes of hard candy, and I was sure that chocolate would not survive the heat. What would the perfect gift be? Clothes? No! The governemnt determined what he wore. Jewelry? No! He never wore anything but his Beta Theta Pi ring. What was there that would remind him of Christmas past? I thought and thought... No... There was nothing that epitomized our Christmases past. At least nothing I could think of. This excursion was going nowhere fast!
It had been a long day. The girls were fussy, I was exhausted. Time was running out, if we were to get our gift to him in Vietnam before Christmas. But what was this special gift going to be? Our celebrations had been the Christmas plays at church, caroling, and visiting friends. Christmas had always been family coming in from out of town, the decorated tree, opening gifts, playing in the snow and ice skating.
Most of our childhood was spent in Plainfield, New Jersey. We attended Evergreen Elementary School, and between school and home, we had a lot of traditions. A few days before Christmas, Dad took Bub and me to the Christmas Tree stand by the YMCA, across from City Hall. First we would stop at the live nativity scene in front of City Hall, and then, we would cross over to the Y to pick out the perfect tree. It had to be full, and tall, with no bare spots. It had to look good from all angles. We would look at every tree in the lot before narrowing the field down to one or two. After choosing 'the tree', which sometimes seemed to take an eternity, it was tied securely to the roof, and we were on our way home. After lugging it into the house, Dad made a stand. He was very particular about his tree. As a matter of fact, for many years he wouldn't let anyone help with the decorating. He told us that the decorating was done by Santa and his elves after we went to bed on Christmas. I don't think Dad got much sleep on Christmas Eve! This worked for a couple of years, but then we got older, and we started comparing notes with our friends. You see, our problem was that no one else in our neighborhood had trees decorated by Santa, so we came to the realization that the 'Santa' decorating our tree was our Dad. In this field our Dad was a perfectionist. He was so particular in decorating the perfect tree that he tied every light on every string to individual tree branches. That way they would shine the way he wanted them to. If it wasn't exactly right, he'd take everything off and start all over again. When finished, his tree was a work of art!
Our Christmases were celebrated with our Aunt Ev and Uncle Ebe, along with our cousin Joyce. They drove from Pittsburg, across the Pennsylvania Turnpike, after Uncle Ebe's shift in the steel mill ended. It wouldn't have been Christmas without them! As soon they arrived, the parents sat in the living room, my Dad put on Christmas Carols, and the kids came down the stairs, youngest first, to see what Santa had brought. I know we really looked forward to the gifts, but the tree caught our attention as well. Each year, he added something new, and we all wanted to be the first to find it.
When Bub and I were in elementary school, Dad decided to buy some land in the Pocono Mountains in Eastern Pennsylvania in a little town called Reeders at the base of Big Pocono. He wanted to build a house for us to get away from the hot, humid New Jersey summers... or so he said. A large part of the forty five acres he bought was covered with beautiful pine trees. There was every kind of pine you could imagine. It had to be the biggest Christmas Tree 'lot' that I had ever seen! So, as soon as the "summer" house was built, he invited all of his friends to come up the weekend before Christmas and pick out their trees. It was about a two hour drive from Plainfield, so Mom got busy. She knew everyone would be hungry after the drive and hiking through the woods to find their special tree. She made the biggest kettle of soup I had ever seen.
And that was just the beginning. Before the day was over, our refrigerator was bare, and their friends were happily on their ways home, with full stomachs, envisioning the tree they had picked in their home. My Dad was in his glory. This was the ultimate Christmas experience for the man who loved this holiday so much. He was the keeper of a mountain full of trees that went all over, to brighten the Christmases of all of his friends. Some of the guests, however, were in for a rude awakening when they got their trees home. Somehow, the trees looked a lot smaller in the woods than they did when they went to put them up in their homes. We added tape measures as necessities for the next tree cutting day!
Realizing 'Operation Cut Down a Christmas Tree' would happen again next year, Bub and I were afraid that the guests might take all of the 'good' trees. So, the next summer, we spent days climbing all over the side of the mountain, marking our possible tree choices with red banners. The only problem was that the mountain was big, and it looked a lot different in summer than it did in winter. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn't find any of our selections when we went up the next December. Needless to say, there were more than enough 'good' trees to go around.
We soon realized that our summer home was a great winter retreat. The living room/dining room had a huge brick fireplace. There was a little pond out back that froze over solidly. We would go skating and come in and warm up by the roaring fire. We built forts and rolled snowmen. I remember one year when we were there, we snuck out to go ice skating with our friends. Our parents had said no when we asked if we could go, but we went anyway. Well, we didn't often disobey our parents, and before the day was over, we wished we hadn't disobeyed them that time!
We had to walk through the woods, go across abandoned railroad tracks, and down a big hill. It was a long hike to the lake by the 'Golden Slipper Square Club Camp'. We went there to skate because the lake was bigger and the ice was better than on our pond, except for one thing. We had to avoid the metal frame for the docks they used in the summer. My brother loved to play ice hockey. Later, he even played goalie when he was a student at Amherst. They were using the metal posts as their goals, and my brother was trying to stop a puck from scoring. Unfortunately, his face slammed into the metal posts, breaking his two front teeth. In addition, his mouth was overflowing with blood. It was a long walk home through those woods, and it gave us a lot of time to reflect on our actions. We were pretty sure we were really in for it! Luckily our parents were so shocked by the blood and broken teeth that they forgot that we were not suppose to be skating!
Another winter activity was sledding. We lived just a few blocks away from Cedarbrook Park in Plainfield, New Jersey. As soon as the snow started to fall, we grabbed our Flexible Flyers and headed for the big hill in the park. There we met all of our friends and slid down and climbed back up for hours. When I was too tired to pull my sled back up the hill, my brother would grab the rope and pull it up for me. He usually ended up hooking the sleds together to pull me home at the end of the day. It was another ritual that when the sledding was over, we had hot chocolate, topped with melting marshmallows. Those were the days!
One Christmas wasn't so happy. Bub's best Friend, Victor, had been diagnosed with Leukemia in the fall. They had been friends forever, and I was the pesky little sister always butting in. Victor was a character, and I can still remember his entry in my autograph book when I was ten: "Sugar is sweet, lemon is sour. How many boys can you kiss in an hour?" As his condition deteriorated, Victor was brought from the Peddie School to Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield where his room overlooked the decorated tree in front of the building. His parents lived across the street from the hospital, and he wanted to go home for Christmas. He realized he wasn't going to make it and told my brother that at least he had his Christmas tree outside to look at.
After his death, his parents did take him home for a last time, and Bub was there. Then, on December tenth, Victor was buried, and Bub was a pallbearer. It was a difficult Christmas for Bub. Victor had wanted a new football, and his parents had it wrapped, ready and waiting. On Christmas Day, they came over and gave the football to my brother. I think that at this time, Bub became aware of how special life, family and friendships are. It was the first time that death had ever really touched him with someone so close and so young. It made that holiday even more precious. We all realized that lives can change very quickly.
Our little brother David arrived when I was 10 and Bub was 13. It was quite a new experience. I was no longer the baby of the family. When David was 2, our Dad was working for Revlon Cosmetics. They had tubes of lipstick in Christmas ornaments. Dad brought some home and put them on the tree. Whenever we had a lady visitor, he would give her one of the lipstick ornaments to take home. That Christmas I wanted a flowered chair for my bedroom. I thought that would be a perfect addition to the bigger room I had inherited when David was born. Bub had moved up to the attic, and David had been given the smaller bedroom next to our parents. That left we with Bub's old room. On Christmas Day I couldn't wait to see the chair I was sure would be there. It was! It had light purple flowers on it, and I thought it was the most beautiful chair I had ever seen. I wanted to put it in my room right away, but my parents wanted it to stay by the tree for a few days. I relented, but spent most of Christmas Day sitting on it. It was perfect! When I got up the next day, I ran downstairs to sit in my new chair. I was horrified when I saw it. David had taken one of the lipsticks off of the tree, and he had drawn with it all over my chair! I started screaming. Everyone came running. My cousin laughed, my parents told me to calm down and David hid. He may have been young, but he knew I was mad! Bub took me aside later and told me that I shouldn't be so hard on David. He reminded me of some of the things I had done to his toys along the way. Then he got some detergent, warm water and towels and helped me clean it up. We got a lot of the lipstick off, but there were still some pink spots that reminded me for a long time to come of the lipstick Christmas.
When Bub was in high school, we moved to Williamstown, Massachusetts. He was in boarding school in New Jersy, so when he came home for Christmas Break, he found out what real snow was like! In one day we had 34" of snow with a wind chill below 0. David, who was three at the time, loved to play outside. He had adjusted quite well to the New England weather in the North west corner of Massachusetts. As a matter of fact, he could outlast us all outside. He had been pestering everyone to go outside with him to play. Mom, Dad and I said no way! He knew he couldn't go out by himself, so he started on Bub.
Not realizing what he was getting himself into, Bub agreed to go with him. David bundled up, and my 'cool' brother Bub just put on a jacket and a pair of gloves. He didn't have a clue! We tried to warn him, but he wasn't buying any of it. He thought he knew what winter weather was like. After about five minutes, Bub was at the door, frozen, but David had disappeared! We went upstairs and looked out the windows to see if we could spot him amongst all of the piles of snow. We couldn't see him! Then we all put on layers of clothes and formed a search party. The snow was as high as David was tall. We followed his path as best we could. All sorts of crazy ideas went through our minds. We were about to give up and call for help when we heard his voice. He was having a blast. He was laughing at us! He had known we were looking for him from the beginning. He was playing some sort of a hide and seek game. He didn't seem think that he was 'lost' at all. In fact, when we told him he had to come inside, he screamed bloody murder!
These were our life experiences. These were Christmases past. What could I send him to remind him of our 'good old days'? It seemed that our Christmas memories revolved around snow, ice and cold weather. It was impossible to send these to him, not when he was serving in Vietnam.
We were heading out of the last store, failures! Suddenly, Amy started tugging at my dress. I was tired, hot and sweaty. The incision from my c-section was hurting, my feet were burning, and my head was throbbing. All I wanted to do was go home, put the girls down for naps, and take one myself. The day had been a total failure. We'd been in every store, we'd searched high and low, and now we were going home, empty handed. But going home was going to have to wait. My retreat was not to be.
As I headed for the exit, Amy kept tugging on my skirt and pointing up to a high shelf. I tried to keep going, but her tenacity won out. I finally stopped and followed her pointed finger to a shelf full of figures shrouded in heavy plastic. I couldn’t even make out what lay beneath the wrapping, but Amy could. She had found what I'd been looking for all day! She saw that these figures were in fact plastic snowmen! A snowman in Vietnam? I realized immediately that this would be the perfect gift. Since we had spent a large part of our childhood in the Pocono Mountains and there hadn't been a lot to do, after a snowfall, we would head outside to make snowmen. Snow was one thing I was sure would not be a part of Christmas in Vietnam. And therefore, a plastic snowman would be perfect!
It took a while to find a salesclerk who was willing to get a lift and bring our perfect gift down from his lofty perch and remove his cocoon of plastic. After all, it was August, and who in their right mind would be buying Christmas decorations? I'm not even sure that the salesclerk knew he had snowmen in stock. When we explained our quest and where this fine snowman was headed, the clerk hastened to help us out. It took some time, but finally we were headed out of the store, mission accomplished!
With our precious cargo in the carriage with Kristen, we approached our car in the parking lot singing Christmas carols. The girls were secured in the back seat with the Snowman up front as we headed home, still exhausted, but now feeling a sense of satisfaction. We had found the perfect gift! It was hot, and the windows were down. We continued singing carols and received more than one strange look as we stopped at red lights on our way up Main Street.
After arriving home, and after putting the girls down for their naps, I realized that finding the perfect gift was only the first hurdle in “Operation bring Christmas to Vietnam”. My second hurdle was finding a box big enough to fit this snowman? I began calling my neighbors. Luckily Shirley, my next door neighbor, had one that was perfect! I had made it past hurdle number two. I picked the box up and started wrapping. My brother’s snowman had to be protected for the long journey half way around the world.
By the time the girls woke from their naps, the snowman was ready to be shipped. It was late, and the post office would be closing soon, so we hurriedly ran out the door. North Canton Post Office, here we come! Now we came to hurdle number three. This obstacle had to do with my wrapping job. The postman said the box needed more tape. When he saw where the box was going, he got out his tape and fixed it up right then and there. We were almost finished.
But there was still one more hurdle. I never thought about the cost of sending a snowman half way around the world. When it was totaled up, his journey was three times more than the snowman had cost! I didn’t care. It was the perfect gift, no matter the cost! My big brother had always been there for me, and now it was my turn to give him a big surprise. The memories of Christmas past were priceless, and they would travel to him in Vietnam in the guise of a plastic snowman.
We bid the snowman goodbye, wishing him a safe journey. Then we headed down to Diebold to pick up my husband from work. Amy filled him in on our shopping 'quest' and told him about our 'perfect' gift. She made sure that her Dad knew she was the one who had discovered this special present. He agreed whole-heartedly with our selection. I could hardly wait to hear from my brother when he opened the box. He would be so surprised! Who else in Vietnam would have a snowman in front of their tent?
September and October flew by. I imagined where the snowman might be on his journey. I was sure he was somewhere in the bowels of a cargo ship. I just hoped that he would arrive in Vietnam before Christmas.
Bub’s letters continued to arrive on a regular basis. He was flying a lot of hours. The 9th was being pulled out, and some of the soldiers were being reassigned stateside. We thought that this might mean that he'd be home for Christmas. But that was not to be as Bub had opted to stay in Vietnam and was transferred to the 25th Infantry, stationed between Saigon and the Cambodian border. So much for having him home for the holidays.
In early November, his letters stopped. We worried, but thought he must be very busy and so we waited patiently. Right before Thanksgiving we received word that he was en route to Walter Reed Medical Center. The only information we received was that he had been operated on in Vietnam and then in Tokyo. We held our breath, waiting for more news. And then it came... It was nothing we had expected. He had cancer! He was fighting in a war... He had been shot down 3 times... He had received the Distinguished Flying Cross... Two Bronze Stars with ‘V’ for valor... The Air Medal with 27 oak leaf clusters... The Army Commendation Medal... He had fought valiantly, but he was coming home with cancer. It didn’t make any sense. Soldiers fighting in a war shouldn’t get cancer... We were prepared for many possibilities, but cancer? How? Why? What could we do?
Our parents were in shock. For the first time in my life, I saw my father afraid. The man who could handle any problem that came his way was now devastated. My father had given his son the life he hadn't had. My brother had done all of the things my father had been unable to do. My father had had to quit high school twice to help support his family. Bub went to college and law school. My father had played pick-up ball in empty lots. My brother played team sports. My father respected my brother, and the respect was mutual. They were more than just father and son. This turn of events was crushing my Dad. It was also difficult for my Mother. She had always doted on her eldest. She refused to believe that cancer could take him away.
My in-laws lived outside Washington, DC. We were going there for Thanksgiving, so we arranged for my Mother-in-law to pick up Bub and bring him to her house. When I saw him, I thought, ‘There must be some mistake.’ He was tan from being in Vietnam and in great spirits. He looked terrific! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Bub met his new niece, Kristen, who was now four months old. He and Amy rekindled their special relationship. There was no way he was sick! I believed that once the doctors at Walter Reed took over the case, everything would be fine. The mistake would be exposed, and our lives would go on as usual. I had to believe. A life without my big brother was unthinkable.
The hospital, however, confirmed the diagnosis. He had a virulent form of cancer and the prognosis wasn’t good. Bub was a fighter. He told them to try everything, and they did. Sometimes the pain was excrutiating. He told me one time that if he had had his service revolver with him, he would have taken his own life to end the extreme pain from the treatment. Between chemotherapy sessions, Bub would always come home. He continued to be optimistic, but the effects of his treatments and of the cancer were beginning to show. He loved to spend time with Amy and Kris. He and Amy seemed to have a connection. They were both born in August, under Leo, and they seemed to have similar personalities. Bub was home on leave when she was born which seemed to have created a bond. At first they would play with her stuffed “Army Mule”, chasing each other through the house. As time passed, Amy ran around and Bub watched her. I tried to entice my brother to eat, but he couldn’t. It was becoming difficult for him to do the simplest tasks. We looked forward to his visits. It allowed us to believe that there was still hope, but with every visit, our hopes dimmed. It got to the point where he needed my husband’s help to get dressed.
We had planned to visit him at Walter Reed on September 13th, but my parents had decided to go that weekend. We postponed our visit so everyone wouldn’t be there at the same time. Unfortunately, our trip was not to be. On the 14th of September, Bub slipped into a coma and died the following day. When the call came, I knew before I picked up the phone that Bub was gone forever. The sense of loss was overwhelming. The doctor at Walter Reed said Bub’s heroism did not end on the battlefield. He said they had tried everything they could to stop the cancer, regardless of the pain it caused. Bub knew he was dying, and his hope was that the doctors would learn something from him that might save another person’s life in the future. It was now official. Bub was gone.
I couldn’t think. My neighbor Shirley came over and took Amy and Kris. She kept them all day and long into the night. I worried about my parents. They were driving back from Washington, and suddenly I was in charge. I had to make decisions. This was a new role for me. My Father and Bub had been the decision makers in our family. It was old-school thinking, but up until now it had worked. Now it was up to me. I began to contact family and friends. Each person I talked to offered to call others. That was taken care of.
Should the body be returned to Canton for calling hours? Yes, I thought it should. So, I called Ann Foster, a neighbor of my parents. Her family had a funeral home, and she took over from there. A million other details faced me. Friends wanted to bring over food. Relatives were flying in and their planes had to be met. When my parents got home, I realized my job wasn’t over. They were in shock. Neither of them was ready to take over the tasks of preparing for Bub’s final return home. It was all up to me.
Arlington National Cemetery was Bub’s first choice for burial, but he had told me that it was close to full. Since the burials there were limited, he told me his second choice was Gettysburg. When the Army officials called, they said he was definitely entitled to be buried at Arlington. I had to choose between the Pennsylvania section since he was born there, or the Ohio section since that was his home address at the time of his death. I said Ohio, but asked if I could check with my parents and get back to them. The official said he would call back the next day. I tried to find a quiet time when I could talk to my parents, but before I could, the official called back and told me that upon reviewing my brother’s records, it was determined that he should be buried in a distinguished burial area. I did not realize then what an honor that was.
My parents friends came in and took over the kitchen. The Perruzzis, the Vaughts, and the Mitchells organized everything. There was food of every kind. People had opened their hearts and were grieving with my parents over our tremendous loss. The only problem was getting my parents to eat. No one understood what had happened. No knew what to say. And yet, just the presence of those gathered eased the deep hurt. The house was full of friends, food and comforting shoulders to cry on.
The body of my brother Bub, Captain Carl E. Anderson, Jr., returned home, accompanied by an Army officer who handled anything that came up. When he arrived, I was able to go home and spend some time with my kids. I had to find a way to explain to them what had happened. I could tell them about the what, but I couldn’t tell them why. I couldn’t tell myself why. It was beyond my comprehension that my brother was gone. Why?
For two days, the funeral home overflowed with family, friends and caring people who came to pay their respects. A young woman from my church came to express her sympathy. She, too, had lost a young brother. We had daughters the same age, and we became close friends. Sharing our losses brought us together. Our daughters are still close, over 35 years later.
We then went to Washington, D.C., for services at Fort Lee with burial at Arlington. I don’t know what I expected, but what I remember of the ceremony was overpowering. After the service, his flag-draped casket was placed on a horse-drawn caisson. The road was lined with soldiers. As we approached the amphitheater behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the cortege came to a stop. I thought it was to pay respect, but instead the procession stopped, and we were escorted to Bub’s grave site. Because of his service record in Vietnam, he was placed between the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Mast from the Battleship Maine. A few rows away lies Audie Murphy and John Foster Dulles. I knew he deserved the honor. I was proud of him for what he had done. But it didn’t ease my breaking heart.
After the service, we returned home. A very large part of my life was gone forever. I wasn’t sure I could handle it. I still had so many responsibilities. My parents needed me, my children needed me, and my husband needed me. It was overwhelming! How could I possibly be there for everyone when I needed someone to be there for me?
Life went on. I didn’t think it would, but it did. My husband went back to work, my children kept growing and asking the unanswerable questions such as, ‘Why did Uncle Bub die?” And, “Where is Uncle Bub?” And, “When will Uncle Bub come back?” They just didn’t seem to understand that death was permanent.
September blended into October. October became November. Before I knew it, December was upon us. My girls were excited. It was almost Christmas. They saw ads on TV and holiday lights downtown. They saw Santa at the mall and wished for special toys. I knew Christmas was coming, but I tried to erase the thought from my mind. I couldn’t face a Christmas without Bub coming home. No matter what, he was home at Christmas. We couldn’t have Christmas without him, could we? It was unthinkable, but my husband and I knew we had to somehow make Christmas for the girls. He suggested we make Christmas cookies. It was only a few days until Santa came, so we needed cookies. Cookie baking had always signaled the arrival of the Christmas season, so I thought “better late than never”. Rollie put carols on the record player, Kris was napping and Amy and I got out the ingredients for the cookies. We planned on getting things started and when Kris woke up, she could help decorate them. I wasn’t into Christmas at all, but I forced myself to go along with the plan. After all, Bub would have wanted us to celebrate with our girls.
After mixing the ingredients and rolling out the cookie dough, we placed the cookies on the cookie sheets and put them in the oven. I was crying and must have messed up the recipe because the next thing I knew, the kitchen was full of smoke. The cookies were burned! They were not only burned, they were burned so badly that I even had to throw the cookie sheets away! I took them out to the trash cans and came back into the house sobbing. What was I going to do? I couldn’t face Christmas...at least not that year. I was cancelling it! With the house still filled with smoke, and my nerves totally gone, I sat down in the living room crying. Just then the doorbell rang.
I couldn’t believe that someone was ringing our doorbell at 5PM. Not now! Who could it possibly be? Didn’t people know that I wanted to be left alone? As I ran to hide in our bedroom, my husband answered the door. He called for me to come to the door right away. By the tone of his voice, I knew it was something important, so I wiped away my tears and went to the door.
There was a mailman standing there, and as I approached, my husband asked him to repeat what he had just said. He apologized for the condition of the box he was delivering. He thought we might want to open it to see if anything was damaged. He said it was the most beat up box he had ever delivered. I stared at it in utter amazement. I looked at the label. It had been to Vietnam, and then to Tokyo, and then to Walter Reed. Finally, when Walter Reed had stamped it “Addressee Unknown”, the box had been returned to sender, us. It was the perfect Christmas gift we had picked for my brother almost a year and a half ago. It had been on an odyssey and was being returned to us just in time to salvage our almost lost Christmas. The ‘perfect’ gift to him from us, had become the perfect gift for us. It was a sign to me that I had to go on with my life. I had responsibilities. Bub was gone, but his spirit would remain with us. Our gift to him had become his gift to us.
We profusely thanked the mailman, giving him a box of candy. I’m not sure we ever explained to him the significance of the battered box. Rollie plugged in the Snowman and put him in the front window. Then he restarted the Christmas music. Kris was now wide awake and joined Amy and me in the kitchen. Luckily I had a few cookie sheets in reserve, so we started all over. This time the cookies were perfect!! We decorated them and then, for the first and last time, we had Christmas cookies and milk for dinner, while sitting on the living room floor, looking with amazement at the snowman.
It has been over 30 years since the snowman miraculously returned to us. Every Christmas he reminds us of Bub and the sacrifices he made in the name of freedom. The “Snowman” is a little worse for wear, but he never needs worry that he will be replaced. He was the perfect gift, but, ironically he was the perfect gift to us. He came to us when we needed him. The timing of his arrival at our house was unbelievable.
The “Snowman” is a reminder of our wonderful Christmases past, he is a part of our Christmas present, and he will remain a part or our Christmases future. He brought us acceptance of what had happened, inner peace for what was happening, and hope for what will happen in the future.
The Snowman's journey did not end after his odyssey around the world. He moved with us from 7th Street in North Canton, Ohio, to Lynn Drive in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. From there he returned to North Canton and decorated our home on Weber Avenue. Then the Snowman went with us to Lethbridge Lane in Fairlawn, Ohio and journeyed on to Journey's Drive in Heartland, Wisconsin. We then returned to Ohio and settled in Canton, first at Williamsburg Lane in Woodlawn Village and then on Brentwood Drive in Hills and Dales. The winters had been hard on the Snowman, so when we landed on Plantation Road in Winter Haven, Florida, he was relieved. Every season he has been prominently displayed, and his story has been told over and over again to family, friends and my students at Sts. Philip and James School in Canal Fulton, Ohio and at Denison Middle School in Winter Haven, Florida.
Dad left us to be reunited with his first-born in 1987. Mom continued on for 15 more years, missing Bub every day. She lived with us when we moved to Florida, passing away nine months later, and joining them in Heaven. Thanks to the wonderful care of The Good Shepherd Hospice, she was able to spend her last days in her new home, surrounded with love and care. As the end was approaching, Mom raised her hand and pointing to the ceiling, she spoke her last word, Bub.
My brother's friendship and bravery touched many lives. He was a selfless person in a selfish world. He had a purpose and a plan for life, and he wasn't afraid to follow it.