Richard Pershing Anderson
Born: September 23, 1918
Hometown: Chicago, IL Class: 1943
Position / Rank: Lieutenant (j.g)
Date / Place of death: April 6, 1945 / Okinawa
Date / Place of burial: April 6, 1945 / Okinawa / Tablets of the Missing, Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii
Richard P. Anderson was a member of Section 1-H-2 at the Academy, the section that
(with 1-H-1) formed the first class organization, began publishing the Academy
newspaper Polaris, and started the tradition of tossing coins into the Amphitrite pool.
These sections started their education at Fort Schuyler and completed their education
at Kings Point when they returned from their at sea training. Crew lists on file in New
York indicate that Richard Anderson signed on as Engine Cadet aboard the SS
Shawnee on November 28, 1941. According to Academy records he was appointed a
Cadet, Merchant Marine Reserve, on July 28, 1942.
After graduating from Kings Point in January 1943, Richard P. Anderson accepted his
commission as an Ensign, U.S. Naval Reserve. The log book of the USS Bush (DD
529) shows that he reported aboard the ship upon its commissioning on May 10, 1943.
Normal Navy practice is for officers and most of the crew to report to the shipyard
where the ship is being built several months in advance of commissioning. By April 1,
1944 he had been promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade) and assigned to duty as the
ship’s Chief Engineer.
On April 1, 1945, the Bush was assigned to Radar Picket Station #1, 51 miles north of
Okinawa. The Bush’s mission was to give early warning of air attacks to the transports,
auxiliaries and cargo ships laying off of the landing beaches. On April 2 and 3, the
Bush refueled from a tanker at Kerama Retto and returned to Radar Picket Station #1.
For the next three days the USS Bush fought off several kamikaze attacks every day.
By the afternoon of April 6 the ship had already fought off seven separate attacks.
However, at about 1513 a single Japanese plane, later identif ied as a “Jill” torpedo
bomber, was sighted dead ahead, low on the water. Although the ship maneuvered
violently so that all of the ship’s guns could fire at the plane, the Japanese pilot flew
through all of the exploding shells until it hit the ship at 1515 between the ship’s two
stacks. The bomb carried by the plane exploded in the Forward Engine Room,
Lieutenant Anderson’s station. Everyone on duty there, including Richard P. Anderson,
were killed instantly. Although the Bush remained afloat after this attack two more
kamikaze hits sank the ship later in the day, carrying six other officers and eighty
enlisted men out of a crew of 307 to their resting place.
LT(j.g.) Richard P. Anderson, USNR was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal. For his merchant marine service Cadet-Midshipman
Richard P. Anderson also earned the Merchant Marine Defense Bar, the Victory Medal
and Presidential Testimonial Letter.
Richard P. Anderson was the youngest of Harry Anderson and Ora Anderson’s two
children. Richard’s big brother, Harry, Jr. was just two years older. According to the
1930 and 1940 U.S. Census’, Ora Anderson died at som e time between 1930 and
1940, leaving Harry Anderson to raise his two sons. Harry, Sr. was a painter with an
eighth grade education, but by 1940 his older son had graduated from high school and
was employed in a stock brokerage with his youngest son well on his way in life.
A caption in his Academy yearbook credited Richard Anderson with frequently telling
his classmates to “Take it or leave it.”
USS Bush (DD-529) (Photo)