Harry A. Pearce Jr., a World War II Marine whose life was saved by Sequim High School graduate and Medal of Honor recipient Richard B. Anderson, died Dec. 26 at his home in Hanover, Kan., of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 87.
A decorated war veteran, Pearce was the remaining surviving soldier among three Anderson saved on the island of Roi Namur on Feb. 1, 1944.
Anderson died after tucking a live grenade to his stomach on his first day of combat while all four Marines were hunkered down in a shell crater.
The federal building in Port Angeles was named the Richard B. Anderson Federal Building in 2008 in Anderson’s honor.
Peninsula Daily News interviewed Pearce annually for the newspaper’s Veteran’s Day Commentary page column honoring the North Olympic Peninsula’s four Medal of Honor recipients.
Give thanks every day
“I take time out every day to give thanks for what Richard did on my behalf,” he told the PDN on Nov. 11.
“I call it my second chance.”
Pearce, a demolition specialist, received three Purple Hearts for wounds in action, as well as the Silver Star, Legion of Merit Medal and a Presidential Citation with two stars.
He later wrote a book about his World War II experiences, Star Shells, Condoms & Ka-bars, became an petroleum geologist, started a consultant company, founded a berry farm — and with his late wife, June, raised four daughters.
One daughter, Pat Mueller of Hanover, said Friday that her father would often remind those around him of Anderson’s sacrifice.
“He often would say, ‘Why did I make it through all these experiences, and so many others didn’t?'” Mueller said.
“Life meant a lot to him.”
________Staff writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at paul. firstname.lastname@example.org.