PENINSULA: Tributes to fallen service members on Memorial Day today

  • CYNTHIA JONES
  • Monday, May 28, 2001 12:01am
  • News

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By Cynthia JOnes

Pfc. Richard B. Anderson was just 22 when he grabbed a live grenade and tucked it into his midsection, saving the lives of three other Marines.

Anderson, a Sequim High School graduate who grew up in Agnew, was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Today at noon, his heroic death 57 years ago in World War II will be marked with the dedication of a memorial at Veterans Park next to the Clallam County, 223 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles.

It is one of several Memorial Day events planned in Jefferson and Clallam counties.

It was Feb. 1, 1944, when Anderson used his own body to muffle that exploding grenade. He and the other Marines were in a 15-foot deep shell hole at the edge of a contested airfield on the South Pacific island of Roi Namur.

Later that year, his family was presented with the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest battlefield honor.

In 1945, a destroyer launched from a Seattle shipyard was named the USS Richard B. Anderson, and his brother, Machinist’s Mate Robert L. Anderson, was among its first crew members.

But while Anderson’s memory has been honored periodically by local veterans groups, his ultimate sacrifice has largely gone unnoticed in Clallam County and the rest of the North Olympic Peninsula.

That will be rectified today when the memorial to the Medal of Honor winner is unveiled today.

Among those attending the ceremonies will be former Sgt. Harry Pearce, one of the three Marines that Anderson died protecting from the grenade’s blast.

A 48-star American flag that was draped over Anderson’s casket will fly over the park as the monument dedicated to Anderson is unveiled.

In addition to Pearce, others expected to attend the ceremonies include Clallam County Commissioner Mike Chapman; members of the Port Angeles City Council; members of the 4th Marine Division Association who served with Anderson; Ron Vaughn, past president of the USS Richard B. Anderson Shipmates Association; a Navy chaplain and others.

Elsewhere on the Peninsula today:

Port Angeles and Sequim

* In honor of all veterans, there will be a 9 a.m. ceremony at Mount Angeles Memorial Park, Highway 101 and Monroe Road in Port Angeles, and an 11 a.m. ceremony at Sequim View/Dungeness Cemeteries, corner of Sequim-Dungeness Way and Medsker Road.

Both ceremonies are sponsored by local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

* In Port Williams, the Marlyn Wayne Nelson Memorial Park “Liberty Bell” will ring four times at 10 a.m. in a ceremony on the beach at the east end of Port Williams Road.

* Wreaths will be laid on a monument to veterans in front of the Port Angeles Veterans’ Center, 216 S. Francis St., in a ceremony planned to start at 10:30 a.m.

Marine Corps League piper Don Alward will play “Amazing Grace” and “Taps” on the bagpipes, and a rifle salute will be fired to honor deceased veterans.

* Dungeness Cemetery on Lotzgessel Road in Sequim, a historical cemetery where many pioneers are buried, will be open today with graves decorated by American flags and flowers.

Port Townsend/Jefferson County

* Color guards from several veterans groups will join a 10 a.m. ceremony in Fort Worden Cemetery in Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend.

* At 11 a.m., color guards will join in the ceremony at Laurel Grove Cemetery, on Old Discovery Road near the intersection with 19th Street, Port Townsend.

* American Legion auxiliary members will throw flowers into the water to remember those who died at sea in a noon ceremony on the City Dock, near the intersection of Water and Madison streets in Port Townsend.

* A 12:30 p.m. community memorial service will take place at Gardiner Cemetery, on Gardiner Cemetery Road near the intersection with Highway 101 in Gardiner.

* A community gathering, complete with color guards, is planned for 2:30 p.m. at the Chimacum Cemetery, on Beaver Valley Road near Center Valley Road, Chimacum.

Joyce and West End

* In Forks, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post is sponsoring a community ceremony at the Blue Star Memorial, next to the flagpoles on Main Street south of the traffic light, at 11 a.m.

* Colors presented by the Port Angeles Civil Air Patrol will open an 11 a.m. ceremony at the Pioneer Cemetery on Crescent Beach Road in the Joyce area.

PDN staff writers Lora Green and Roger Harnack contributed to this report.

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