Carl “Bud” Anderson thought he was celebrating his upcoming 90th birthday at the Frewsburg Legion on Wednesday night.
The real reason more than 50 of his close friends and family members joined at Samuel L. Derby Post 556, other than to celebrate his birthday, was for a ceremony recognizing Anderson’s many heroic accomplishments in World War II, almost 70 years ago.
Gary Chilcott, director of the Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency, guided the ceremony and explained how Anderson was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star medal and five Expeditionary medal during his tour with the 14th Armored Division from 1944-45.
As staff sergeant with Company C of the Army’s 19th Armored Infantry Battalion, Anderson was recognized for his heroic achievements near Hatten, France in January 1945.
During an 11-day stand against the German army, the 14th Division battled through freezing temperatures, rough terrain and heavy gunfire in the villages of Hatten and Rittershoffen.
Anderson voluntarily remained behind to cover his platoon during eventual withdrawal from Hatten.
“The Germans were really on us,” he said. “We were surrounded, and I got hit.”
Wounded and still manning his machine gun, he continued fire until each of his comrades had been evacuated, Chilcott said.
For these actions, he was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal.
Later on, when the 14th Division pressed into Germany, they became known as “The Liberators.”
The division was responsible for liberating 130,000 allied prisoners of war, subcamps of the Dachau concentration camp and several forced labor camps containing thousands of Polish and Soviet civilians.
Interestingly, Chilcott added, Anderson was discharged on Veterans Day in 1945.
On Wednesday, Anderson humbly accepted recognition once again in front of a standing crowd for his accomplishments. In addition to the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, he received the World War II Victory Medal; the Army of Occupation Medal; the American Campaign Medal; the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and Bronze Star attachment; the Good Conduct Medal; the Combat Infantryman Badge; and the World War II Honorable Service Lapel Button.
Anderson, a Frewsburg resident, will turn 90 on June 30.