IN MEMORY OF.....THOSE WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE........Sgt. 1st Class Victor A. Anderson
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This photo was taken the last day Victor spent in Ellaville and just before he shipped out to Iraq.

 

Rural America is facing a disproportionate amount of casualties in the Iraq war. On the day when the 2,000th military death was announced, David Martin visited one small town in mourning. Click here for this CBS news story about Victor Anderson.


'A very emotional day'

Andersonville ceremony honors fallen soldiers, pays special tribute to 48th Brigade

By Chuck Thompson
TELEGRAPH STAFF WRITER

It is always an emotional time at Andersonville National Historic Site when Memorial Day services are held at its National Cemetery.

The band performs, the honor guard fires a 21-gun salute and the bugler plays taps as the breeze ruffles the flags placed next to the white headstones in perfect rows across the green rolling lawn. There are nearly 19,000 of them now.

Veterans and ex-prisoners of war come to remember fallen comrades.

Family members of deceased veterans lay flowers on the graves of their loved ones. There are new ones every year, as veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam are buried in the hallowed ground that also holds 13,000 graves of the Union POWs who died in the infamous Andersonville Prison during the Civil War.

Sunday's ceremony was different, however.

The speaker was Lt. Col. Harry Steve McCorkle of Byron, just home from a new war. And within sight of the podium was the grave of a man he commanded in Iraq, Sgt. 1st Class Victor Anderson of Ellaville.

McCorkle, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry of the 48th Brigade Combat Team from the Georgia National Guard, recently returned from the unit's yearlong deployment to Iraq.

Anderson, 39, was one of four of McCorkle's soldiers killed by a roadside bomb last July 30.

A number of his family attended the service, including his wife, Ellen, and mother, Belinda Poole.

"This has been a very emotional day, especially having Victor buried right out there," Poole said after the ceremony. "I believe in this country and what he was doing, and I'm really proud of him. But it's hard."

She said she was moved when she went to Memorial Day services in the past, but nothing like Sunday.

"This is a different feeling. I understand what some of the others (mothers and widows of those killed in action) must have been feeling."

McCorkle said it was an honor for him to represent the 48th Brigade by speaking at Sunday's ceremony. But he said it was also very emotional.

"Yes, sir, a lot of emotions, especially since one of my soldiers is here," McCorkle said. "I was able to see his wife and mother before the ceremony, and I was glad to have that chance."

During his speech, McCorkle said he and Anderson had enlisted together 22 years ago, and had been friends all that time.

"He did not have to go to Iraq. He was excused for medical reasons but fought that decision and deployed with his unit. He believed in our cause in Iraq and wanted to be with his men. He was a great leader with us, and a community leader back home. Victor was a dedicated husband and father. He wanted to make a difference, and he did."

McCorkle said he lost eight other members of his battalion, and 17 more soldiers from the 48th died in Iraq, so he was honored to be able to pay tribute Sunday to them and all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in serving their country.

He said all Georgians should be proud of how the men and women of the 48th Brigade performed in Iraq.

"Our citizen soldiers were called on like they rarely have been before, and they responded extremely well," McCorkle said.

"We owe these brave men and women so much."

 

To contact Chuck Thompson, call 744-4489 or e-mail cthompson@macontel.com.

William H. Bronson III
Publisher/Editor
Americus Times-Recorder
229-924-2751
william.bronson@gaflnews.com

Many mourn Victor Anderson


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 funeral.

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 open-air structure.

Chaplain Don McDaniel gave the opening prayer, giving thanks to Anderson for his life and service, and praying to bring peace to the surviving family.

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 percent."

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's spirit.

"(Anderson) had courage, power, love and a sound mind," Bellscamper said.

"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 said.

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 Anderson."

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 family.

"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 love."

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."


 


Sgt. 1st Class Victor A. Anderson

ELLAVILLE - Sgt. 1st Class Victor A. Anderson, 39, of 820 Poole Road, Ellaville, died Saturday, July 30, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq.

Funeral services with full military honors will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 15, 2005, at Andersonville National Cemetery, Andersonville. Chaplain Don McDaniel will officiate.

SFC Anderson was born Nov. 5, 1965, in Peach County. He was in Company A, 2nd/121st Infantry Battalion, 48th Brigade Combat Team, Georgia Army National Guard.

His commendations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, United Nations Medal, NATO Medal-Former Republic of Yugoslavia, Kuwait Liberation Medal-Saudi Arabia, Kuwait Liberation Medal-Kuwait, Georgia Special Operations Ribbon, and Georgia State Active Duty Ribbon.

SFC Anderson will be awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge at the funeral service.

He had been a deputy with the Sumter County Sheriff's Department before being deployed.

He was a very loving and caring person who thought of others before he thought of himself.

Survivors include his wife Ellen Anderson and son Tyler of Ellaville; one daughter, Jessica Anderson of Palm Bay, Fla.; his mother and step-father, Belinda and Harrel Poole; father and step-mother, William L. and Mary Anderson; three brothers, Wendell Poole of Ellaville, Joseph Poole of Albany, and Owen Poole of Springfield; one sister, Katie Anderson of West Palm Beach, Fla.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Jody Anderson.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., P.O. Box 361986, Birmingham, Ala. 35236.

The family will be receiving friends at the home of Harrel and Belinda Poole on Poole Road in Ellaville.

Watson-Giddens Funeral Home of Ellaville is in charge of arrangements.


 

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