Alyssa Burson Travis Goetsch Cooper Gumbleton Mr. Peirce May 20, 2014 Major William Anderson After 21 years of serving in the United States Air Force, Major William “Bill” Anderson can easily be classified as an American hero. Traveling the world and serving in the Vietnam War has taught Anderson many lessons and skills that he still uses today. One of the greatest lessons he has learned is that we as Americans should be extremely grateful for the service men and woman who protect us overseas today and those who have done so throughout our history. Mr. Anderson hopes to teach this valuable lesson to younger generations. We will always remember Bill Anderson as a hero and a mentor to our future. William Anderson was born in 1940 in Altoona, Pennsylvania to a loving stay at home mother and a role model father who served in the Navy. With his three other siblings and devoted parents, his middle class family lived a contented life. At the age of 5, his dream and love of aviation started young after witnessing his neighbor perform “victory rolls” over his house in his P-51 Mustang fighter at the end of WWII. After his mother took him to an airport to watch the planes land and take off, his love and special interest for aviation became his goal and foundation for his future. After graduating from high school, Anderson didn’t know what he wanted to do. He decided to attend Penn State and pursue a career in engineering after being briefly inspired by his engineer uncle. Throughout his time attending Penn State, he was enrolled in the Navy ROTC program and later the Army ROTC program. After a loss of interest in engineering and a shortage of money, Anderson left Penn State and decided to consider other options. From there he decided to see an Air Force recruiter, and was immediately placed into cadet training due to his completion of 2 years in college. At the age of 21, he began his training in Waco, Texas and was unable to achieve his goal of becoming a pilot because of his limited eye sight. Anderson instead became a navigator and graduated 3rd in his class of 30. Now 22, Anderson continued his training at the bombardier school at Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento, California. During this time Anderson met his beloved wife, Terry Anderson, at a dance and recalls that she “looked like Natalie Wood to me.” They later married and have now been together for 51 years. After completing bombardier training, he was assigned to C-130 Hercules as Tactical Air Command at Dyess Air Force Base, there he had his first child, his son, in 1965. He then volunteered for Vietnam and was stationed in Japan on a 3 year company tour. While on this tour he had to leave 15 days out of every month to Vietnam and perform supply and troop deliveries to ground units. On one of his trips, he performed a mission that earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross. This award is earned after performing a hazardous mission with only a 50/50 chance of survival or completion. On this mission he was tasked to fly through the A Shau Valley with six other C-130s and drop ammunition supplies to ground troops. Due to dense fog and inclement weather, there was nearly zero visibility which possibly saved the flyer’s lives, as the enemy anti-aircraft guns were not radar equipped. In an already difficult task of navigating an extremely narrow valley, they were basically in a shooting gallery with the Vietcong and their anti-aircraft weapons. Due to the inclement weather, the Vietcong were firing their weapons based on sound and were unfortunately able to take down the number “7” C-130, killing five crew members and five Life Magazine photographers. The surviving aircrafts landed in Da Nang Air Base, and Anderson’s number “5” C-130 survived with 75 bullet holes, and because of this event Anderson considers the number 5 as his lucky number. On this tour, Anderson had his second and last child, a girl, in 1967. He enjoyed traveling throughout Japan with his family and playing golf. After his three-year tour in Japan, Anderson became a navigation instructor in Sacramento, California for 4 ½ years. With this job he was able to attend night school, and received a MBA degree and an under-graduate degree in Management. He then was stationed at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado as a Squadron Commander for a three year tour. In late 1975, Anderson went on an isolated tour in South Korea at Osan Air Base during the ceasefire of the Korean War. From there, Anderson was then stationed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware flying the huge C-5A aircraft for four years and traveled much of Europe. Near retirement, Anderson went back to Lowry as a group executive officer for six months and then was later promoted to wing executive officer for another year and then retired in 1982. After retirement from the Air Force, Anderson became a manager for Frito-Lay Corporation. He then moved on to working the command post at Denver International Airport, and then worked real estate with his wife. He now resides in Newport Beach, California and volunteers at the Lyon Air Museum and is also a member of the Freedom Committee of Orange County. Anderson’s service played a big part in the war efforts in Vietnam and other conflicts throughout the world. Even though he is now retired from the military, he serves as a mentor and American hero. We will always be thankful for his service and the lesson he taught us. He will always be a mentor for students and his words of “be thankful that you were born and live in the best country in the world, live in southern California with the best weather in the world, and go to Martin Luther King Jr. High School, a school with a program (King High Remembers) as significant as this” will always stick with us. Major William Anderson will always be remembered, and his entertaining stories will always be told in our future.