Private First-Class James Anderson, Jr. was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1968, the first African American soldier ever awarded the honor.
WASHINGTON, D.C.- Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44) announced that her bill to rename the Compton Post Office after Medal of Honor recipient PFC James Anderson, Jr. passed the House of Representatives this evening.
“We are one step closer to seeing our post office in Compton named in honor of a local hero and patriot, PFC James Anderson, Jr,” said Rep. Barragán. “Early last year, I reintroduced this bill during Black History Month to honor PFC Anderson’s valiant efforts to protect his fellow Marines in Vietnam. The bravery of this twenty-year-old soldier was beyond every expectation, and his actions are remembered by family, friends, and fellow soldiers to this day. I am grateful the House has passed this bill and will now work with my colleagues in the Senate to get this done, so that PFC Anderson will be memorialized in his hometown.”
PFC James Anderson, Jr. was born on January 22, 1947, in Los Angeles, California. He attended Carver Elementary School in Willowbrook and later graduated from Centennial High School in Compton. He continued his education at Los Angeles Harbor College. After a year and a half, at the age of nineteen, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in February 1966. In December 1966, Private Anderson arrived in the Republic of Vietnam.
On February 28, 1967, while on patrol outside of the village in Quang Tri Province, PFC Anderson’s platoon was ambushed and came under heavy enemy fire. During the ensuing firefight, an enemy grenade landed near PFC Anderson and his fellow Marines. Without hesitation, PFC Anderson pulled the grenade to his chest, curled around it, and absorbed the majority of the blast with his body, heroically saving the lives of the Marines around him at the cost of his own.
On August 21, 1968, Secretary of the Navy Paul R. Ignatius posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to PFC James Anderson, Jr. for heroism in Vietnam, the first time an African American Marine received this medal.
The legislation now awaits action in the Senate.