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2LT Beauford Theodore Anderson, U.S. Army (1942-1952)

The tiny village of Soldier’s Grove, Wisconsin, has a population of only 534 people, but it has a rich history. In the 1980s, it became the first town in America to get more than half its energy from the sun, making it the country’s first “solar village.” It’s also where World War II veteran Beauford Theodore Anderson came of age. 

The Heroism of Beauford Theodore Anderson

Born in 1922, Beauford T. Anderson joined the Army at age 20 and was sent to the Pacific Theater. He returned to Wisconsin, briefly starting a floor sanding business before rejoining the Army as a recruiter. There could be no finer example of an American soldier than the one Beauford Anderson made. While fighting on Okinawa, he received the Medal of Honor for an act of valor that felt like it could only come out of a movie. 


The invasion of Okinawa in April 1945 would be the largest amphibious landing of the entire Pacific War, called the “typhoon of steel” by those who fought there. With Allied naval support, the U.S. 10th Army made up of 541,000 soldiers from four divisions and Marines from three divisions, landed to take some 1,200 square miles defended by 114,000 Japanese troops and Okinawan conscripts. The brutal fighting gave American war planners an idea of what an invasion of mainland Japan might look like. 

Thankfully, Japan would surrender before that invasion began, but the Battle of Okinawa left 90% of the island destroyed, 12,500 American troops dead, along with a staggering 94,000 Japanese  Tech  Sgt. Beauford T. Anderson was in the thick of it all. 

For two weeks, Anderson and the 96th Infantry Division held the middle of a line 1.5 miles long against repeated enemy counterattacks, often at close range. On April 13, 1945, his regiment was posted along the Kakazu Ridge when it came under one of those fierce close-in attacks. Just before dawn, his unit was caught by surprise, struck by a Japanese flanking attack. He ordered his men to take cover in a nearby tomb, then grabbed his carbine and went to meet them – alone. 

What he saw was a rush of enemy soldiers. Anderson emptied his magazine into the onslaught and then improvised a game-changing tactic: he picked up an unspent Japanese mortar shell and threw it back to them. The explosion killed several enemy soldiers. There’s an old Army saying: “If it’s stupid and it works, it isn’t stupid.” Anderson found a box of mortar shells, pulled the safeties, and started banging the bases on nearby rocks, then started chucking them at the oncoming enemy. 

If this sounds like something you might have seen before, a similar tactic was used by the Americans fighting the Nazis, but that was in the movie “Saving Private Ryan” – Anderson was doing it in real combat. He lobbed so many close-in mortar strikes the Japanese were forced to withdraw from their attack. It wasn’t without cost. However, Anderson was struck by shrapnel in the melee and was bleeding profusely. His actions that day took out 25 enemy soldiers and several machine guns and mortars and ended the threat to his regiment’s flank. 

Beauford Theodore Anderson would survive the war and receive the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman himself on Memorial Day, 1946. 

Beauford T. Anderson’s Journey from Battlefields to Public Service

He went home to Wisconsin and started his business, but the Army called to him. He rejoined and stayed in Wisconsin until the Army moved him to Fort Ord, California, and was promoted to second lieutenant. Eventually, he would be medically discharged. He spent the rest of his life in California, ranching and serving in local government. He died in 1996 at age 74. He and his wife are interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Read About Other Profiles in Courage

If you enjoyed learning about Beauford Theodore Anderson, we invite you to read about other profiles in courage on our blog. You will also find military book reviews, veterans’ service reflections, famous military units and more on the TogetherWeServed.com blog.  If you are a veteran, find your military buddies, view historic boot camp photos, build a printable military service plaque, and more on TogetherWeServed.com today.


Tags: 96th Infantry Division, Arlington National Cemetery, Beauford T. Anderson, famous military units, military book reviews, Pacific Theater, Saving Private Ryan, U.S. 10th Army, veterans’ service reflections, World War II


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