Seaman/1c Henry "Hank" Anderson
US Navy WWII - Europe, Amphibious Forces Commander, Weedville American Legion Post 978
Honoring - Seaman/1c Henry "Hank" Anderson
By daughter Darlene Miller
Henry “Hank” Anderson He was born Feb 22, 1927, a first generation Swedish American. His parents were Oscar Francis Anderson and Hulda Emelia Anderson. Oscar and Hulda both came from Sweden and met in Caledonia. Oscar’s father’s name was Andrew Johannson, hence the Oscar Anderson since the naming in Sweden years ago was “son of”. He was born on Washington’s Birthday (from the days Washington and Lincoln had separate birthdays – he always told us it was a national holiday to celebrate his birth – not theirs). He went to school in Caledonia and Weedville, telling my sisters, brother and I that he walked in 3 foot high snow up the train tracks from Caledonia to the Weedville school in High School when we complained about walking to the bus stop. He was the 12th of 13 children. He had 5 brothers and 7 sisters. He had two brothers who served in the military: Bernard “Bud” Anderson was in the Army in WWII, and Raymond “Al” “Sarge” Anderson was a Marine in the Korean War. Currently he and my Uncle Al are the only ones left of the 13.
He joined the Navy when he was 17, December of 1944. Grampa Oscar had to sign the permission papers to allow him to join and fight in WWII. He left in January 1945 and served until July 3 1946. He was part of the Amphibious forces and was assigned to England and France. When he joined the Navy, he took a train from Ridgway to the Sampson Naval Training Center in New York state on Lake Champlain. After completion of his training, he then went by train to NYC where he got a troop transport to England. His tour overseas was in England and France. He was a Seaman First Class when he left the service and returned to Caledonia. After that he spent 8 ½ years in the Naval Reserves. After he returned from the Navy, the government had a program 20 for 52 – my Dad said this is where the returning vets received 20 dollars a week for 52 weeks to help them return to civilian life.
The US Navy Amphibious Operations by Vice Admiral Daniel E. Barbey, USN, Commander of the Seventh Amphibious Force, Pacific:
Of all the fighting forces of the Navy, the least understood are the Amphibious Forces. In a general way, of course, the public is aware that special craft, large and small, are designed to hit enemy beaches, disgorge their cargoes of men and material and then back off under their own power. There have been photographs and pictures of the assault waves doing this very thing. But nowhere, until this collection of paintings was put before Americans at home, has there been a graphic representation of where these craft came from, how they were operated, and how the officers and crews who manned them were trained. And yet, the Amphibious Forces are a branch of the Naval Service which must appeal particularly to the hearts of Americans since they are in a very real sense ” the infantry of the Navy,” and their personnel and equipment, because of their front-line duties, form the “fightingest team” afloat. The Amphibious Forces have another aspect which also must commend them especially to Americans; they are brand new. There was never anything like them before.
Then he started working in the coal mines, as a large part of the Valley did. He was in the coal mines for 12 years, working on Glen Fisher and the Caledonia mine, always a member of the Union and very proud of that fact. After the coal mines, and at my mother’s prodding against his working in the mines – (Dolly G. Levendusky of Penfield – they were married on Oct 31, 1953), he took a job with the Consolidated Gas Corporation, where he worked for over 31 years. He started as a rough neck field man, clearing well sites, moved into being a Bale machine operator and then went to school to become a Gas Measurement Man using his” brains instead of his brawn” as he said (My Dad always pushed education since he left school his senior year to join the Navy, then came back and got TWO high school diplomas right before I graduated because he didn’t want me to have mine before he had his).
My Dad has been an active member of the American Legion Post 978 since 1946, having 65 years of service and the stars on his Legion hat to prove it. He is a lifetime member. He has been involved from the ground up in the establishment of the Legion presence in Bennetts Valley as I know it today. I remember as a kid when he and his fellow legionnaires were building the meeting area on the corner in Weedville – it is a Pizza place now. Then I remember all the weekends he worked on various legion projects, to include Bingo with the Senior center in Byrnedale. My Dad was the caller and the Legionnaires and Senior Center members worked and split the profits from the Bingo games. That money was a lot of what built the present American Legion building, requiring hours of volunteer work from my Dad, Dave and John Hetrick, my uncle Bud, Burke’s, DeCarli’s, Llewellyn's, and Huff’s and numerous other legionnaires whose names I don’t have in my head. He has served many roles in the Legion, Adjutant twice, Treasurer and Commander. He has been the Commander since 1998 currently. He was awarded Commander of the Year for his district in 2008 and 2010 at the PA American Legion Convention.
During the 40’s and 50’s baseball was a big deal for the small Valley towns as they compete with each town, and my Dad was very proud of the Caledonia team, with pictures all over our house of he and his team members. He even put on his uniform one day to prove it still fit when we were kids. His current hobbies are still watching the Pirates – no matter how poor they play, and of course the Steelers. He still loves to hunt as the Crew runs around the mountain and heads to the Willows after for a drink with his brother Al. And he has to call Bingo every time (he plans around it – unless one of his kids pulls him away for a vacation or wedding or graduation of his grandchildren.)
My mother died in February of 1984. On December 31, 1988, he married to Carol Shannon Anderson. They live in Caledonia in the homestead – the house my Dad was born in and he says he will leave this earth in. My Dad has three daughters (Darlene Miller of Bellefonte, PA, Valerie Cian of Andrews, SC and Cindy Anderson (deceased) and one son (Kevin Anderson of DuBois, PA) and has five granddaughters (Jami Anderson of Bellefonte, PA, Tami Simone of Glen Burnie, MD, Hope Miller of Glen Burnie, MD, Heidi Cian of Simpsonville, SC, and Holly Cian of Charleston, SC) and one great grandson (Devon Anderson of Bellefonte PA) and great granddaughter (Riley Ann Simone of Lynchburg, VA).
“Lest we Forget…”