James Anderson Jr.

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James Anderson Jr.
James Anderson, Jr.jpg
James Anderson Jr., Medal of Honor recipient
Born(1947-01-22)January 22, 1947
Los Angeles, California
DiedFebruary 28, 1967(1967-02-28) (aged 20) 
near Cam Lo Combat Base, Quang Tri Province, Vietnam
Place of burial
Lincoln Memorial Park in Carson, California
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUSMC logo.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service1966–1967
RankUSMC-E2.svg Private First Class
UnitCompany F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsMedal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor
Purple Heart ribbon.svgPurple Heart

Private First Class James Anderson Jr. (January 22, 1947 – February 28, 1967) was a United States Marine who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for heroism while serving in Vietnam in February 1967. When his Medal of Honor was awarded on August 21, 1968, he became the first African American U.S. Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor.[1][2][3]

Joining the U. S. Marine Corps in 1966, Anderson took part in Operation Prairie II. During this operation, Anderson's platoon was advancing through the jungle near Cam Lo Combat Base when they were ambushed by North Vietnamese forces. Anderson jumped on a grenade thrown by a Vietnamese soldier and was killed in action. This action saved other Marines' lives, and Anderson was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his deed.


Anderson was born on January 22, 1947, in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from senior high school, he attended Los Angeles Harbor Junior College for a year and a half.[3]

Private Anderson left college to enlist in the United States Marine Corps on February 17, 1966[3] and received recruit training with the 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. He was promoted to private first class upon graduation from recruit training in August 1966. He then transferred to Camp Pendleton, California where he received further training with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment.

In December 1966, Private First Class Anderson arrived in the Republic of Vietnam, where he served as a rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division in Quang Tri Province. On February 28, 1967, during Operation Prairie II he was killed when he covered a grenade with his body to save his teammates.[3]

Private First Class Anderson was interred at Lincoln Memorial Park in Carson, California (Plot L-6).[4]


A complete list of his medals and decorations includes: the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, the Vietnamese Military Merit Medal, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Bronze star
Medal of Honor
Purple Heart National Defense Service Medal Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star
Vietnam Military Merit Medal Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm Vietnam Campaign Medal

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a rifleman, Second Platoon, Company F, Second Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division, in Vietnam on 28 February 1967. Company F was advancing in dense jungle northwest of Cam Lộ in an effort to extract a heavily besieged reconnaissance patrol. Private First Class Anderson's platoon was the lead element and had advanced only about 200 meters when they were brought under extremely intense enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire. The platoon reacted swiftly, getting on line as best they could in the thick terrain, and began returning fire. Private First Class Anderson found himself tightly bunched together with the other members of the platoon only 20 meters from the enemy positions. As the fire fight continued several of the men were wounded by the deadly enemy assault. Suddenly, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the Marines and rolled alongside Private First Class Anderson's head. Unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, he reached out, grasped the grenade, pulled it to his chest and curled around it as it went off. Although several Marines received shrapnel from the grenade, his body absorbed the major force of the explosion. In this singularly heroic act, Private First Class Anderson saved his comrades from serious injury and possible death. His personal heroism, extraordinary valor, and inspirational supreme self-sacrifice reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.


In memory[edit]

The United States Navy prepositioning ship, MV PFC James Anderson Jr. (AK-3002) is named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient James Anderson Jr.[5]

The name James Anderson Jr. is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ("The Wall") on Panel 15E - Row 112.[6]

James Anderson Jr. Memorial Park in Carson, California, at the corner of Wilmington and University was named after James Anderson Jr.[7]

Anderson Hall on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, home to PFC Anderson's Marine unit, was dedicated in his honor in 1972.[8]

Anderson Avenue in Compton, California, is named after him.

The Downlow Saga, a 2017 novel by author Sheldon McCormick, is dedicated in memory of Anderson.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Selected August Dates of Marine Corps Historical Significance". This Month in History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 2010-11-28. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  2. ^ Marine James Anderson Jr. is 1st Black Medal of Honor recipient, August 21 in History, Brainy History.
  3. ^ a b c d "PFC James Anderson". Historical Marker Database. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  4. ^ findagrave.com record for PFC James Anderson Jr., 9 May 2002 (accessed 21 August 2012)
  5. ^ "USNS PFC James Anderson Jr. (T-AK-3002)". Navy Historical Center, Department of the Navy.
  6. ^ "James Anderson Jr". mishalov.com. Retrieved 2006-07-17.
  7. ^ "Parks and Other Facilities in Carson". City of Carson. Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  8. ^ "Anderson Hall Dedication Today" (PDF). Hawaii Marine. Retrieved 2022-05-25.


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.