Vets’ stories still strike a chord


Herald Writer

EVERETT — When enemy soldiers shot Jack Anderson in the jaw and later captured him during battle in the Korean War 50 years ago, he never lost faith in God or country.

At 78, he tells like it was yesterday, the stories of bonding among soldiers, escaping enemy capture and surviving gunbattles. More of his stories were published last year in his 374-page book "Warrior by Choice, Warrior by Chance."

Today, Americans across the country at various events will honor veterans of foreign wars for their part in fighting for freedom.

On Friday, Anderson shared some of his stories with residents at Washington Oakes retirement community in Everett during a two-hour gathering to honor the country’s war veterans. That’s where Anderson now lives.

"Speaking to a crowd like this, I’m talking to people who have been through the same things," Anderson said to his fellow residents.

About 40 residents or staff members at Washington Oakes served in various military branches during wartime. Each was pinned with a white carnation. The retirement center’s singing group, the Little Acorns, sang songs such as "Yankee Doodle" and "America the Beautiful."

Veterans Day events

Here is a look at activities planned today:

  • There’s a parade at 11 a.m. in Granite Falls.

  • A ceremony is planned at 11 a.m. at the Eternal Flame at the Snohomish County Courthouse, 3000 Rockefeller Ave. in Everett.

  • Names of veterans or home-front civilians will be launched in balloons at 11 a.m. Saturday at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park at 1615 SE Everett Mall Way in Everett.

  • Staff member Serena Perkins honored veterans at the ceremony.

    "We’d like to say thank you, thank you, thank you," she said. "You’ve helped create freedom."

    And later, residents gathered again outside to dedicate a new, larger American flag that flies in front of the retirement center at 1717 Rockefeller Ave.

    "We assemble this afternoon to honor our nation’s veterans who put their own lives and dreams on the line and were willing to serve our country," said David Molloy, general manager of Washington Oakes.

    "It is by their honorable sacrifice that we enjoy all the blessings of liberty as citizens of the United States of America," he said. "We also gather today to honor Old Glory, the symbol of our nation’s freedom."

    I"We have a very patriotic population," said Cynthia Graham, Washington Oakes’ marketing coordinator.

    Like many veteran soldiers, Anderson thought more than once he would die fighting in World War II and later in the Korean War.

    Anderson, who kept a diary during wartime, wrote his book after family members urged him to pass on his stories.

    As a 17-year-old during World War II, Anderson led a rifle squad and then a rifle platoon in the Southwest Pacific. He later became a prisoner of war while fighting communists in Korea.

    On Feb. 12, 1951, while fighting two machine-gun positions, Anderson was shot in the jaw and then captured by the enemy. Anderson, who had given medical care to wounded soldiers during other battles, stuffed his own wound with batting from a quilt.

    He later escaped with other soldiers, while others were not so lucky, he said.

    Anderson stays in contact with some fellow soldiers through e-mail and an annual reunion in Helena, Mont.

    During his military service, Anderson received numerous decorations including the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart, the POW medal and the Good Conduct Medal.

    The Herald/DAN BATES

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