(This article appeared in the May-June 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
Retired Clerk Division Assistant Director Gerald (Andy) Anderson was among the 14 World War II Veterans who were awarded the Legion of Honor on Feb. 20, 2014, for their role liberating France from Nazi Germany. The National Order of the Legion of Honor was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 and is France’s highest distinction.
The D-Day landing on June 6, 1944, was the worst day of his life, Anderson said after the ceremony. His company, the 16th Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, was in the second wave of boats to arrive on Omaha Beach in Normandy.
“The first period on Omaha was not very pretty. I’ll never forget that,” Anderson said.
About 40 soldiers were with him in a landing craft and he could hear German gunfire, mortars and artillery shells all around. When the ramp of the craft opened, he was about 10 rows back, which spared him from German automatic weapon fire. He remembers diving into the water and heading for a sandbar about halfway to the shore.
He credits his survival to something out of his control: “Just luck.”
After his military service, Anderson held several jobs in private industry before starting his career in the Post Office. He served as president of the Springfield, IL Local, before becoming a national officer.
When Anderson retired in 1986, then-President Moe Biller praised his contribution to the union. “Everything Andy’s done, he’s done capably and admirably. He’s a credit to the union and we should all be proud that he was a part of the APWU.”
Anderson, who is 92 and lives in Pinehurst, NC, was presented with his medal at a ceremony at the State Capitol in Raleigh, by the Consul General of France in Atlanta, Denis Barbe.
“I’m flabbergasted,” Anderson said. “I’m delighted to receive this medal, but I can’t help but think of all the guys who deserve this medal who are still over there.”