James E. “Andy” Anderson never liked to talk about his military service in World War II.
He had mustard gas burns on his face from a secret mission he volunteered for as an Army medic. He also tended to the care and treatment of liberated Holocaust survivors in Europe.
But whenever any of his military friends in Carmel brought up his service or called him a hero, he always shrugged it off. He’d say, “I didn’t do anything.”
“He was very modest,” said Dave Allen, a Korean War vet. “He would almost drive you nuts because he would say he didn’t do anything, but he was a real war hero.”
Judy Ford, who served on the board for the Waryears Group with Anderson, said he certainly exemplified what it means to be the Greatest Generation.
“He was just very humble,” she said. “But we’ll always remember him as a hero.”
Anderson died on March 1 at age 94.
He was born in Indianapolis on June 15, 1923, to the late William J. and Wanetta (Henri) Anderson. He attended Cathedral High School, graduated from Broad Ripple High School and attended Butler University. After serving in the military, he worked for most of his life as a repairman for Indiana Bell. He enjoyed stamp collecting and gardening.
Anderson was a medic with the 94th Medical Gas Treatment Battalion serving in Europe. He was honored by the City of Carmel for his military service. The City declared Jan. 24, 2017, to be James E. Anderson Day.
Vietnam Col. Bob Clifford, an active member of the American Legion in Carmel, organized a tribute to Anderson last year because he wanted him to know how much he was appreciated.
“Andy was a medic, and as someone who has served in combat you know it scares you when someone screams out the word, ‘medic,’” he said. “Medics do what they have to do, and it’s kind of a tough job because they see some terrible things, but he saved lives. One of the toughest positions is to be a combat medic like Andy was in World War II. Many times he held someone in his arms when they were dying. He’s truly a hero.”
Clifford said Anderson was exposed to mustard gas as part of a military test to develop training methods. He said his bravery help saved the lives of others.
Anderson was preceded in death by his daughter, Marsha Ann Anderson; sister, Martha Washburn, brother, Herell Anderson, stepson, John Dietz and stepdaughter , Bobbi Jo Lambert. He is survived by his children, Stephanie (Dwight) Bergman, Jim (Ilania) Anderson, Tina Anderson, Tim (Sheri) Anderson, Gary (Cathy) Dietz and nephew Rocky Washburn; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.