“For me, I remember all the people who didn’t come back,” said Anderson, vice president and trustee for the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, which held its annual Veterans Day ceremony atop Mount Soledad on Nov. 6. “It’s a solemn reminder.”
As part of the Veterans Committee of the foundation, Anderson works with several other trustees to validate information that comes in weekly from families looking to add a commemorative plaque to the walls at the Mount Soledad memorial.
“I used to walk up to the memorial every day for exercise, and to watch the walls being built, then one day someone asked me if I’d like to work there. That was nine years ago,” he said.
Anderson, a La Jollan since 1982, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1964 after discovering after his freshman year that college wasn’t really his thing.
“Before I knew it, I was sent to Vietnam in 1965 — just a short while after boot camp. My tour in Vietnam was an experience that I’m deeply proud of, but not one that I’d ever want to experience again.”
After his tour in Vietnam, Anderson was offered a prestigious job at The Hague in the Netherlands. While at The Hague, Anderson worked as security personnel for the Department of State embassy from 1966 to 1969. There, he said, he learned a lot of history and “of course, it was much safer there than in Vietnam.”
Anderson soon found himself back in California, where he finished his education at the University of San Francisco. But the Corps continued to call to him. So, for the majority of the 1970s, Anderson worked at Camp Pendleton as a platoon sergeant until he landed permanently in La Jolla working for the University of California, San Diego. He served as chief of police at UCSD for more than a decade.
Of his time spent in the Marine Corps, Anderson said it’s difficult for civilians to understand what it means to be Semper Fi.
“There’s no way to describe the fraternity of the Marine Corps — it’s really its own culture, its own society,” he said.