Samuel D. Anderson was all smiles while visiting the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2012.
Samuel D. "Big Zeb" Anderson passed away on Monday, December 10, 2012 at the age of 90. Mr. Anderson was a World War II veteran who traveled on the electric cooperative-sponsored Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2012.
The following article on Mr. Anderson is excerpted from the Honor Flight book which recognizes the 100 veterans who traveled on the April flight:
When Samuel Anderson was drafted in 1944, he was torn between duty to his country and duty to his family.
Anderson was married, had three children and ran a small farm in Andrews. “I didn’t want to go and I wanted to go,” he says. “There was a war going on, but I had a family. I was scared of going and getting killed. But, I had to go.”
Once during his two-year tour he came close to realizing his greatest fear. He was on a ship—he doesn’t remember its name—and a Japanese plane began a bombing run right at the vessel. “With the help of the good Lord, the gunner saved us,” Anderson said. “Before the plane could drop its bombs, it was flames of fire.”
As a quartermaster, part of Anderson’s responsibility was maintaining chemical weapons gear. His unit participated in the liberation of the Philippines and was assigned a dangerous task: Assist and decontaminate any American troops that were hit with poison gas from the Japanese, “but, no, we were blessed,” he says. “We didn’t have to do that while I was there.”
Stationed in Manila for eight months, Anderson enjoyed getting to know his fellow soldiers and meeting the people of the islands. “I liked seeing new places, like the Philippines. The people were so friendly in Manila,” he says. “And, all I made was friends in the Army.”
His unit was preparing for the invasion of the Japanese home islands when the war ended. “I can’t even begin to describe the feeling when I heard,” Anderson says. “Blessed peace.” But there was some regret, too.
“We were packed and ready to go to Japan,” he says. “It was war, but I wanted to go and see the country.”
Anderson returned home to his wife, Alafair, and his family in 1946. They added a fourth child as Anderson worked various jobs before hiring on with Santee Electric Cooperative in 1958, where he worked for the next 18 years in right-of-way maintenance, a demanding and often back-breaking line of work in the days when poles and lines were dug and set by hand.