History Wars Vietnam War

MoH Monday: Remembering triple amputee SFC Webster Anderson

SFC Webster Anderson's deeds in the midst of immense challenges during the Vietnam War exemplify selfless dedication to duty.
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a photo of SFC Webster anderson

Let’s explore the remarkable story of SFC Webster Anderson, a true embodiment of courage and resilience. Decorated with the prestigious Medal of Honor, Anderson’s deeds in the midst of immense challenges during the Vietnam War exemplify selfless dedication to duty.

Military beginning

SFC Webster Anderson/Wikimedia Commons

Webster Anderson’s journey with the U.S. Army began in 1953. Like a moth drawn to a flame, the unrest in Asia beckoned him to serve in the Korean War, right after his enlistment. His unwavering commitment and tenacity soon saw him rise to the position of Staff Sergeant for Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 320 Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Infantry Division, Automobile.

Into the heart of Vietnam

As the Korean War started to lose its steam in late 1953, a fresh bout of tension was fermenting in the heart of Southeast Asia—Vietnam. A cauldron of ideologies, democracy flourished in the South while communism gripped the North. The ensuing struggle for control triggered the U.S. and the Soviet Union to step into the fray, each supporting their ideological brethren. By 1967, the scene was set for Anderson. He was heading right for the main military base in Quang Nam, Vietnam, and it wasn’t entirely clear what awaited him there.

Heroic stand at Tam Ky

Fast forward to the early hours of October 15, 1967. SCF Anderson and his battalion were stationed near Tam Ky in South Vietnam. Out of nowhere, the tranquility of their morning shattered as the North Vietnamese infantry launched an onslaught. Machine gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades rained down like a hailstorm. The enemy fighters pushed hard, eventually penetrating their defenses. As a result, the base faced the imminent danger of being overrun.

In the eye of the storm stood Anderson.

(Original Caption) Tam Ky, South Vietnam: Open Fire! Taking deadly aim, troopers of 101st Airborne Division fire into brush during Operation Wheeler, near here recently, while on a search and destroy mission. Getty Images.

He fearlessly confronted the onslaught, transforming a howitzer apparatus into a personal weapon, hurling grenades at enemy snipers. Amid the chaos, two enemy grenades found their way to Anderson’s position, detonating before he could retreat. The blast left Anderson gravely wounded, yet his spirit remained unbroken.

Despite being injured, Anderson mustered his strength and defiantly pushed himself upright. In the face of danger, when a grenade threatened his fellow soldiers, he acted swiftly. Without a moment’s hesitation, he grabbed the grenade and flung it away, enduring yet another explosion. He immediately put the lives of his fellow service members above his own. Then, he disregarded any medical assistance, insisting that the resources should be used to fight off the attack.

Anderson’s unwavering bravery on that fateful day saved numerous lives, but it came at a great personal sacrifice. He lost both legs and a portion of his arm. In recognition of his heroic actions, he earned a promotion to Sergeant First Class before receiving a medical discharge.

The Medal of Honor

On December 4, 1969, the President of the United States presented SFC Anderson with the Medal of Honor, acknowledging his valor beyond the call of duty. He was also a recipient of the Purple Heart, a testament to his sacrifice. On August 30, 2003, Anderson passed away, leaving behind a lasting legacy that will inspire future generations.