MODESTO, CA, USA U.S. Marines CPL, K CO, 3D BN, 5TH MAR, RCT-1, 1ST MAR DIV, CAMP PENDLETON, CA FALLUJAH, IRAQ 12/14/2004
When Corporal Michael Anderson Jr. first arrived in Iraq in September, the risky duties of searching house-to-house for insurgents was a thrill for the 21-year-old from Modesto.
“At first, he was all gung-ho, like everybody is,” his father told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He called after the first firefight he was in and said it was the greatest day of his life.”
But the horror of the war quickly changed his attitude. He told his family he was having nightmares and couldn’t get the smell of flesh and blood out of his head. Anderson was killed Tuesday on one of those missions in Fallujah. The Department of Defense released no additional details Wednesday about his death.
“He was tough as nails,” his father said. “You know when they say that Marines are a different breed? I didn’t know what they were talking about until I had one for a son.”
As a child growing up in Modesto, Anderson enjoyed skateboarding, snowboarding and motorcycles. He graduated from Johanson High School in 2001 and then joined the Marine Corps.
He served stints in Japan, Guam and Haiti before being sent to Iraq this past Sept. 11. Anderson was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton.
Two memories of Michael:
I met Michael in the summer of 1999. He was a friend of a friend, and all the girls were crazy about him. He was always cracking jokes and smiling. In 2005 I visited the memorial set up in Capitol Park in Sacramento. It was hard to face the finality of war. The world loss a beautiful soul, and many people think about and miss him every day. It saddens me to think that he won’t have the opportunity to grow old and let what seems like the entire city of Modesto tell him how much he meant to everyone who had the fortune of being in his presence.
— Melissa Dye
Micheal and I never got to spend much time together. He lived in California and I lived in North Carolina. As a child we played a lot. I remember him always riding his skate board. He was very athletic. I really wish that I could have flown to California for his service but I was 7 months pregnant. Michael we miss and love you with all we have and you will always hold a place in our hearts.
— Sara Bryant (cousin)