Sergeant First Class Webster Anderson, USA

Webster Anderson was one of two men from South Carolina who won Congressional Medals of Honor for their deeds in Vietnam. (Ralph Johnson was the other). Anderson, born in Winnsboro on July 15, 1933, was a career member of the U.S. Army, joining the army in 1953, long before he began his tour of duty in Vietnam. The official citation awarding the Medal of Honor to Anderson reads as follows.

"Sergeant First Class Webster Anderson (then staff sergeant) distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as chief of section in Battery A, Second Battalion, Three Hundred and Twentieth Artillery, One Hunderd and First Airborne Infantry Division (Airmobile) against a hostile force near Tam Ky, Republic of Vietnam. During the early morning hours of October 15, 1967, Battery A's defensive position was attacked by a determined North Vietnamese Army Infantry unit supported by heavy mortar, recoilless rifle, rocket propelled grenade and automatic weapons fire. The initial enemy onslaught breached the battery's defensive perimeter. Sergeant Anderson, with complete disregard for his personal safety, mounted the exposed parapet of his howitzer position and became the mainstay of the defense of the battery position. Sergeant Anderson directed devastating direct howitzer fire on the assaulting enemy while providing rifle and grenade defensive fire against the enemy from his exposed position. (While) attempting to overrun his gun section prosition, two enemy grenades exploded at his feet knocking him down and severely wounding him in the legs. Despite the excruciating pain and though not able to stand, Sergeant Anderson valorously propped himself on the parapet and continued to direct howitzer fire upon the closing enemy and to encourage his men to fight on. Seeing an enemy grenade land within the gun pit near a wounded member of his gun crew, Sergeant Anderson, heedless of his own safety, seized the grenade and attempted to throw it over the parapet to save his men. As the grenade was thrown from the position it exploded and Sergeant Anderson was again grievously wounded. Although only partially conscious and severely wounded, Sergeant Anderson refused medical evacuation and continued to encourage his men in the defense of the position. Sergeant Anderson, by his inspirational leadership, professionalism, devotion to duty and complete disregard for his own welfare was able to maintain the defense and to defeat a determined enemy attack. Sergeant Anderson's conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army."

Anderson survived his wounds, though he lost both legs and part of his arm. After leaving the service he moved back to his home in Winnsboro where he leads an active life with his family. He expresses no bitterness about the high personal price he paid for his service to the nation. Webster Anderson, as so many other sons of the Palmetto State of all ethnic backgrounds, served the nation with pride.

Sources:

Greene, Robert Ewell. Black Defenders of America, 1775-1973. Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc., 1974.

Webster Anderson. Telephone interview with author, October 7, 1993.

last updated 1/7/98

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