William H. Bronson III
Publication Date: 2005-08-16
ANDERSONVILLE - The air was thick with
anguish Monday morning as mourners began streaming into the
Andersonville National Historic Site for Victor Anderson's funeral in
the National Cemetery.
As the funeral began at 11 a.m., about 100 people were forced
into standing room, thereby making the total turnout equal to about
200, not including the family. The funeral procession began with the
Schley County Sheriff's Office, Americus Police Department and the
Sumter County Sheriff's Office driving silently, but with their lights
flashing, into and surrounding the cul-de-sac right behind the grassy
knoll where Anderson's funeral was to be held. After the procession,
the officers proceeded to exit their vehicles and formed two lines on
the sidewalk starting at the cul-de-sac up to the large, open-air
structure where the family would eventually walk to sit for the
Then, the family drove to the cul-de-sac, and began the
processional, walking two by two, through the officers' line, up to
the open-air structure.
Before the funeral began, at about 10:30 a.m., Victor Anderson's
cremated remains were brought by hearse to the cemetery, where they
were taken out by six military men and women and marched up to the
Chaplain Don McDaniel gave the opening prayer, giving thanks to
Anderson for his life and service, and praying to bring peace to the
Master Sgt. Bruce Pike gave the first eulogy, speaking primarily
about Anderson's fight with diabetes. According to McDaniel, Anderson
was diagnosed with diabetes when he had his routine physical check up
with the Army in the summer of 2004, thereby forcing Anderson to be
denied entrance into battle overseas.
"Most people and soldiers would be happy (with the diagnosis,)"
McDaniel said, "but not Victor."
So, according to McDaniel, Anderson began a vigorous workout
routine and began to eat a more healthful diet. On Dec. 1, 2004,
Anderson wrote a letter to a military board requesting that he receive
a 120-day re-evaluation.
"I'll gladly accept the findings of the board," Anderson wrote
in his letter.
The board accepted Anderson's request for the re-evaluation,
according to McDaniel, and in May 2005, Anderson was sent to Iraq,
where he was killed by a car bomb on Aug. 30 in Baghdad.
Joni Bennett gave the second eulogy.
Bennett began with, "(Americans) could not have asked for a
finer soldier - he was an excellent and great soldier; he gave 100
Bennett explained that even though Anderson most likely would
not be happy with her, or anyone, for that matter, divulging the
following information, but that he was a dependable and well
responsible for all his fellow soldiers. Bennett went on to explain
that Anderson's mission was to serve his country - that serving his
country was his calling in life.
"He was taken far too early, but he had a greater mission; we
may not understand it, but we must accept it," Bennett said. "He will
never be forgotten. He demonstrated courage and bravery, overcame
fear in combat."
Bennett explained that Anderson, along with the rest of his
battalion, had the eyes of daredevils.
"They take risks so we don't have to take risks," Bennett said.
Amy Bellscamper gave the third eulogy, in which she spoke about
"(Anderson) had courage, power, love and a sound mind,"
"I lost a friend and a comrade," Bellscamper said. "Evil will
not go unpunished."
Bellscamper went on to praise Anderson's wife, Ellen. On May 13,
Bellscamper was throwing a send-off party for Anderson's brigade.
"I was running around at Fort Stewart preparing, and Ellen
Anderson came up to me and asked me what she could do to help me,"
Bellscamper responded by telling Ellen Anderson to go spend the
last few moments she had with her husband.
Ellen Anderson, according to Bellscamper, refused the demand,
and instead insisted upon helping her with the party plans.
"I couldn't have made it through the day without her ice cold
water bottles and her help to the second battalion. Ellen has been, is
and always will be, Charlie Company's mama. (Charlie Company) is
deeply blessed to have Ellen as part of the family," Bellscamper said,
ending by saying, "Thank you for who you are."
Brig. Gen. William T. Nesbitt began his eulogy by expressing his
sympathy to the family.
Then, Nesbitt spoke about how Anderson, just a few days before
his untimely demise, had lost four of his men in a car bombing, and
how upsetting this was to him.
Nesbitt went onto say, "God bless the president, the people of
the great state of Georgia. (Anderson) was a great leader. (Anderson
knew) freedom is not free - it's bought at a terrible price. God bless
The last eulogy was given by U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall.
Marshall began by saying that although he did not know Anderson
personally, he felt a great loss.
"This is the fifth funeral I've attended for Middle Georgia."
Marshall went on to explain that he'd recently given a speech at
an event where he spoke of the long lost soldiers who died fighting
for the United States' freedom in previous wars.
"The long-dead does not (hit you as hard as the recently
passed,)" Marshall explained. "(It feels) like a dream or a bad
nightmare. The loss of happiness from loved ones may never be filled.
The future seems so uncertain," Marshall said, addressing Anderson's
"I would have liked to have known him and had him take my back,"
Marshall went on to say, referring to the positive statements other
people had made in reference to Anderson.
Marshall ended by saying, "Thank you for your service and may
God bless (Anderson,) his family, the United States of America and
everyone in attendance."
Victor Anderson's family was then presented with the Purple
Heart, the oldest U.S. military decoration, which is given to
combat-wounded veterans. Anderson's family was also presented with the
Bronze Star, which is awarded for combat heroism. Anderson's family
was also presented with the Combat Infantryman's Badge, which is
awarded to army men in the grade of colonel or below with an infantry
or special forces military occupational specialty who have
satisfactorily performed duty while assigned as a member of an
infantry/special forces unit, brigade or smaller, during any period
when the unit was engaged in active ground combat. Each award was
presented to the family by Nesbitt and Georgia National Guard Maj.
Gen. David Poythress.
The service, given by McDaniel, then began with two excerpts
from the Bible. McDaniel compared David, a shepherd in the Bible, to a
soldier, who guarded his sheep with his life.
"Victor Anderson was a wonderful soldier, and you can see him as
a shepherd," McDaniel said. "He was a selfless soldier with only
The 21 Gun Salute came after the service. Three helicopters flew
over afterward, then, a solo trumpet played taps.
The presentation of the flags to the family was made by
Poythress, Nesbitt and Sgt. Chris Archer.
Finally, Master Sgt. Bruce Pike conducted the "Final Roll Call,"
in which each member of Anderson's brigade was called, and each stood
up and said, "Here, Master Sergeant." After Pike called out about 30
names, he called Anderson's name, but no one responded, at which point
Pike said Anderson is in heaven, serving in God's military now.
Many sobs were audible throughout the audience.
Although the Anderson family refused to speak to any members of
the press at the funeral, a statement by the family was presented to
the press which reads, "Words cannot express the sadness that we feel
at Victor's loss. He gave his life for his country, for something that
he believed in. We know that Victor died protecting the freedoms and
liberties that as Americans we enjoy every day. He was compassionate
about what he was doing in Iraq. He had a deep sense of duty to
serve his country as a soldier. The lives he touched were far
reaching and he will not be forgotten. We will always miss him, but
he will always be with us in our hearts."
"The service was beautiful," said Anne Crehore, Victor
Anderson's mother's best friend. "(Anderson) had a huge duty, and
(I'm) very proud of Victor, very proud. He was committed to service to
God, country and his family."
Deputy Fred Smith, a member of the Schley County's Sheriff's
Office, who worked with Anderson "... years ago in Ellaville," said, "(The service) was very touching. You know, you don't realize (there's
a war) until it really hits close to home. I support all soldiers
and what they do for us."
"I think it went exceptionally well," Sumter County Sheriff Pete
Smith said about his former deputy's service. "I was just overwhelmed.
Victor was a true hero and loved his country, job and family. He
didn't have to be over there - he wanted to be over there."
Smith went onto say, "The ceremony was mighty beautiful (from
the) 21 gun salute (to the) flag draping; makes me proud to be an
American. I want people to know he always gave 110 percent; he
volunteered when we didn't have enough personnel to get job done. It
speaks well of a man like that."
Finally, Smith said, "I want our people to pray for our troops.
May we have a speedy end to this war."