Chuck Anderson

Chuck & Cecillia Anderson

Charles Calder Anderson, Jr., the son of Charles Anderson and Neta Gunderson, was a graduate of North Central High School in Spokane, WA. He entered West Point after spending a year at Olympic Junior College.

Despite sometimes being an “epic” complainer, Chuck was secretly happier at West Point than he had ever imagined possible. For some of us, West Point was an almost idyllic place where we were offered a fresh start, free of the baggage of our previous lives and “conditions of servitude.”

Like many at West Point, Chuck didn’t achieve the highest levels of cadet rank or academic recognition. He did, however, achieve excellence in characteristically distinctive ways. Although slight of stature in a place where brawn is the norm, Chuck’s athletic ability, stamina, and four years of dedication on the soccer pitch with Joe Palone enabled him to become the cadet coach of the plebe soccer team his First Class year.

This leadership on the fields of friendly strife, combined with his inspired direction of two 100th Nite shows, demonstrated Chuck’s ability to function as an exemplary leader. Chuck had charisma, keen insight, and the ability to make good decisions under pressure—whether polishing the skills of a small team of fierce competitors or directing the creative efforts of a hundred or more members of the Dialectic Society and the USMA band—imposing order on the chaos of a typical production. In both cases, he demonstrated and refined leadership traits that prepared him well for his career as an outstanding young officer.

Chuck’s creative gifts—wit and language—enabled him to become a featured DJ on KDET as a plebe and to coauthor and direct two memorable 100th Nite shows: Point West in 1961, a parody of cadet life at the West Island Military Preparatory School (WIMPS), and Once a Knight in 1962, a cadet’s misadventures as he finds himself in a remote European principality (Flaschenflingen) instead of his expected summer assignment with troops in Germany.

It was during Chuck’s summer of Army Orientation Training with the 82d Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg in 1960 that he met the love of his life, Cecilia Keist (daughter of COL Franklin and Neva Keist) on a blind date at an Officers Club dance. He and Cecilia married on 9 Jun 1962, three days after graduation.

Long conversations with his prospective in laws (COL Keist was director of the Airborne section of the Airborne and Electronics Board at Bragg) led Chuck to opt for service in the Airborne Artillery. He also requested assignment to Ft. Bragg following Airborne training, Ranger School, and the Basic Course at Ft. Sill. In Ranger School, Chuck distinguished himself by being the only known graduate to actually gain weight during the program!

Chuck flourished at Ft. Bragg. In 1964, he was selected for assignment as an aide to General John Seitz, commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery. Chuck adapted well to the role that required sociability, tact, foresight, and meticulous attention to detail. General Seitz, who had been an aide himself, was so impressed with Chuck that he personally made himself and Chuck the founding members of the “Aides and ex-Aides Benevolent Society,” a professional/social group that encompassed all of the aides (including classmates Jim Ellis, Jim Kays, and Mike Crabtree) on post.

Following the Advanced Course, Chuck received orders to Viet Nam to join the 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 319th Field Artillery—the first U.S. Artillery unit engaged in combat in Southeast Asia—in direct support of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

Cecilia and infant sons Charles III and Douglas moved to Bremerton to be closer to Chuck’s beloved grandparents, Charles and Nella Anderson, and to Chuck.

As commander of Battery A, Chuck led his unit in February 1967 in the only combat jump made by U.S. forces in Viet Nam—the first U.S. combat parachute assault since the Korean War. The drop zone was three kilometers north of Katum and about 60 miles northwest of Saigon. Chuck’s mission was to lead his unit in support of the 2d Battalion, 503rd Infantry, and other elements of the 173rd Brigade on DDay of operation Junction City. From a position established in the vicinity of the landing zone, the battery provided direct artillery support for search and destroy operations conducted by maneuver elements in the vicinity of Katum.

As Phase I of Junction City wound down, Chuck joined Cecilia for R&R in Hawaii in early March 1967. He returned to his command to lead them into Phase II.

The 173rd was attached to the “Big Red One” on 20 Mar 1967 with the mission of conducting airmobile assaults into eastern War Zone C. Two days later, the 173rd established Fire Support Patrol Base PARRY near Route 244. It was while on that operation that Chuck was killed by friendly fire from another U.S. Artillery unit. Cecilia donated his black star sapphire class ring to the Academy collection, where it is proudly on display, representing the Class of ’62.

His widow, Cecilia Anderson Boyce; his sons, MAJ Charles C. Anderson III, USARNG, and LTC Douglas Anderson, USAR; and five grandchildren survive him.

Chuck was a fine young man—dedicated, intelligent, and quick witted. An above average cadet, he rapidly matured into an outstanding young officer, a loving husband, and a proud father. His memory is preserved in the history books, in the minds of those who knew and loved him, and in the lives of his sons, who chose to follow his footsteps in active military service in a time of peril.

Pat and Fred Bothwell and others

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