November 11 is a glorious day in which our society honors our veterans for their time serving, protecting, and defending our beautiful country of the United States. There are plenty of veterans that should be honored and interviewed, but on October 24, 2020, I had the opportunity of interviewing one of the toughest veterans alive.
I had the pleasure of interviewing John F. Anderson who served during the Cold War era, especially in the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War. John enlisted into the Navy reserve his junior year of high school following in the footsteps of his brothers and later became a Navy soldier. His oldest brother enlisted in the Army and later transferred to the Navy during the Korean conflict. The second oldest enrolled in the Mariners and fought during the Korean conflict and transferred to the Air Force during the 38th parallel (roughly July 1945). The brother above John served in the Air Force and John’s sister’s husband also defended this country, he was in the army.
During John’s time in boot camp, he was taught and shown many things, but one of the hardest things he faced was running through teargas without a mask. The commanding officer made them do this in case they ever got into a situation like this with the enemy. He also learned how to shoot missiles and how to get into his battle station.
John’s primary job after (MOS) training was keeping the ship clean and having his battle station ready to fire in case an enemy was close. The crew aboard the ship was so good at their jobs that after every shoot they could reload the battle station in 10 to 12 seconds. Every time they would fire a shot during that era which was the 1950’s and 1960’s, it would cost the same as making a brand new Cadillac. On that ship, they had a couple of atomic weapons and some guided missiles that were their secret weapons against the enemies.
Meanwhile, John served in the Navy the majority of the time he was aboard the USS TOLEDO CA-133. He was aboard this ship from the start and was there until the end of his time served in the Navy. As I stated before, John was one of the smartest and hardest workers on the USS TOLEDO CA-133 and the rank he’s most proud of is his Seamen stripe because he had earned this rank and could do everything the others with the same rank had to do without the responsibilities the other soldiers had. Another honor that John earned was being awarded 9 to 12 medals, but his biggest accomplishment was receiving this unique medal that’s called the Navy Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. They gave this medal to individuals who went a second time to Vietnam to help out with the conflict they were having at the moment.
When I asked John about the special people he had met during his time. He became very emotional remembering his friends and brothers he had made during their time served. The two individuals that were his best friends were Bulldog, a fluffy, but tough fellow that jumped on his back the first day John was on the ship and the other was Fred John who was also from Washington but from Bellingham.
Furthermore, John’s favorite food was eating beans with rolls and the worst food was during his time stationed at Pearl Harbor in which he was fed pineapple for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One of the funniest stories Mr. Anderson remembered during our interview was with Fred John and a couple of girls were hanging out in San Francisco, California. It was a beautiful night as they were taking a stroll with these ladies and they saw a mouse and started to chase it through the freeway and then they decided to start jumping on a button that would make the traffic light change colors on the road. Lastly, John says that his experience in the Navy helped him understand what other countries believe about us and his experience has made him love this country more and he is proud of every single individual that has served and is serving this beautiful country.
Overall, the interview was a total success with John F. Anderson. We were able to honor one of the many veterans that have protected the United States. As a society, we need to honor and respect our veterans because they risk their lives to defend this country and they should be treated better when they return home from duty.
Yakima Student Council Programmer