Robert H. Anderson 



Robert Anderson was born in Connecticut and raised in San Diego, CA. The oldest of five children, three boys and two girls, Anderson spent his childhood playing baseball and football in the parks around San Diego as well as surfing at Old Mission Beach. His mother, Esther, took care of the children while his father, Carl Henry Anderson, built many of the homes around Balboa Park. Anderson attended Hoover High School where he played baseball and football and formed a lasting friendship with baseball player Ted Williams. Anderson began college at San Diego State University where he played catcher on the baseball team and quarterback on the football team. He had the honor of playing quarterback in the first game ever held in the Aztec Bowl. Anderson transferred to UC Davis to better prepare for a career as a rancher. At UC Davis, Anderson again excelled at sports, playing quarterback on the football team, catcher on the baseball team and serving as relay anchor on the swim team. He also earned a pilot's license while at UC Davis. After college, Anderson had offers to play quarterback from 3 of the 8 NFL teams that existed in the 1940’s - The Philadelphia Eagles, the Brooklyn Dodgers Football Club and the Detroit Lions. In November 1941, he agreed to play quarterback for the Brooklyn Dodgers Football Club. However, following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, he changed his plans and enlisted to fight for his country in WWII. Already a licensed pilot, Anderson went to the Office of Naval Aviation and offered to become a fighter pilot.

After training, Anderson was sent to the Pacific and flew F4U Corsairs, the fastest and most powerful aircraft of their day. He was in several famous battles and campaigns including Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Pelelieu, Okinawa, The Ryukus, The Marianas, The Solomons, Tinian Saipan, Guam and Iwo Jima. During the battle of Iwo Jima, Anderson performed strafing runs and flew cover for troops on the ground. He flew so low that he could clearly see combat on the ground and would often tell the story about how he was flying on the opposite side of the mountain when he saw the famous American flag raised atop Mt. Suribachi. Clint Eastwood computer generated Anderson's squadron of blue and white bent-winged Corsairs in the film "Flags Of Our Fathers" that depicts the battle of Iwo Jima.  Anderson autographed "Flags of our Fathers" DVDs and donated them to be auctioned off to raise money for wounded Marines returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Between battles, he flew escort, bombing, strafing, and reconnaissance missions during the war. During one mission, he was escorting bombers over the Japanese Island of Kyushu when he was hit with anti-aircraft fire. He was told to bail out and that he would be rescued by a submarine. He jettisoned the canopy and was preparing to bail out when he realized that the Japanese pilots were still shooting at him and that he would become a slow moving target if he bailed out. He decided to stay with the plane. He flew all the way back to his base in Okinawa and landed on the runway with no canopy, no landing gear, limited controls and a plane shot full of holes. The plane was junk but at least it wasn't in enemy hands and Anderson was unscathed and able to fly many more missions. He always said, "Any landing you walk away from is a good landing."

Anderson also fought off kamikaze planes that were trying to attack American ships. This was particularly dangerous because he had to dodge the "friendly fire" coming from the guns on our ships that were also shooting at the Japanese planes.  

During the war, Anderson was stationed with, and flew missions with, Gregory "Pappy" Boyington. In the 1970's, NBC aired a TV series loosely based on the exploits of Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington called "Baa Baa Black Sheep". Anderson used to say, "The only thing accurate about that show was that we flew Corsairs."

Boston Red Sox baseball player, Ted Williams, became a Marine fighter pilot because Williams wanted to fly with Anderson. Williams and Anderson had been friends since high school when they played baseball together. Anderson was an officer by the time Williams entered service so Williams asked Anderson to write a letter of recommendation on his behalf so that he could become a Marine pilot after he finished his Naval aviator training. Anderson wrote the letter and Williams was transferred to the Marine fighter pilot training program. Anderson and Willams flew together and played baseball together in the United States during training in Bunker Hill, Indiana but Anderson was sent to the Pacific and Williams did not see combat until Korea.

Anderson received numerous awards during the war including, The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Purple Heart, Three Air Medals, The Presidential Unit Citation, and about a dozen others.

After WWII, Anderson served in the Marine Corps Reserve, testing new jets, training pilots and keeping his skills sharp in case he was needed in combat again. He served one weekend a month and two weeks twice a year until Vietnam. He also volunteered as a recruiter for the Marine Corps Reserve and helped overhaul their public relations strategy. He volunteered for active duty during the Korean Campaign, but was not called. He secured passage of a CA State Senate Resolution commemorating the 20th anniversary of the commissioning of Camp Pendleton for the base Commemoration Ceremonies in September, 1962.

On November 17, 1942, he married Ruth Edlefsen. She graduated from University of California at Berkley, worked in the physics research lab at MIT and on the early development of sonar at Harvard. She was later appointed the Dean of Women for UC Davis, where she helped implement Title IX (equality for funding women's athletics). Ruth Anderson Court is named after her at the Colleges of La Rue on the Davis Campus. She also taught Spanish on public television. Her father, Niels Edlefsen built the first cyclotron and was part of the team of physicists who split the atom at UC Berkeley under Dr. Lawrence. She preceded Robert in death on February 13, 2006.

During the early 1950's, Anderson hosted and produced some of the first television shows in Northern, CA.

He was working for the CA Department of Agriculture when he determined that television would be an excellent medium for people in Northern California and the Central Valley to learn of the latest policies and procedures directly from the state’s officials.  The show later grew to include Anderson giving weather and farm reports, conducting interviews with celebrities, dignitaries, and athletes. It also featured instructional demonstrations and live performances, increasing the interest level and size of his audience. Later, he hosted and produced a sports-related show called Sportfolio with Bob Anderson.

In the 1960's, Anderson attended law school at the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law. Still working full-time, he took classes at night. Every Thursday during football season, Davis High School would drop off blue paint and butcher paper on his porch and he would be up until the early morning hours painting the giant banners for the football players to run through at the start of the Friday night games (he was a very talented artist). He was also the announcer (and would call the football games) for both Davis High School and UC Davis.

From the 1960's -1980's, Anderson was a successful judge for the California Board of Equalization, hearing cases throughout the State. His most notable case involved his ruling that a well-known televangelist could no longer do business in the State of California without paying sales tax on merchandise sold. The defendant appealed Anderson's ruling all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court not only upheld his ruling, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor quoted Anderson's argument in the official Court Opinion (Jimmy Swaggart Ministries v. Board of Equalization of California).

Anderson was known as the Cowboy Judge because he always wore cowboy boots and a cowboy hat with his suits.

In his retirement, Anderson spent his time between Davis, CA , Turtle Bay Oahu, HI, and San Diego. In 2004, He moved to San Diego full-time.

He was an active supporter of the Marine Corps. He was a member of several Marine organizations, raised funds for the Marine Memorial in San Fransisco, attended functions such as graduation ceremonies at the San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot and donated autographed copies of Flags of Our Fathers DVD's to auctions raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project. In recent years, Anderson's squadrons have been featured in shows such as Dogfights on the History Channel and many others.

In 2005, Anderson was recognized in SDSU's 360 Magazine and the honored guest at the SDSU vs. Wyoming football game played in Qualcomm Stadium.

In 2007, Anderson was selected as one of the “Heroes” of the San Diego County Fair.  The theme was "Salute To Heroes".  The Fair featured an exhibit of his WWII memorabilia, including a film of Corsairs in action during WWII, taken with on-board cameras. Banners featuring a picture of Anderson holding a model Corsair were displayed on street lights and palm trees throughout the local streets and at the Fair.    

In keeping with the tradition of Semper Fi, Anderson celebrated his 90th birthday with family and friends at The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at MCAS Miramar, San Diego, CA, in May of 2008.  

On Veterans Day of 2008, Congressman Darrell Issa sent Anderson a vial of sand from Iwo Jima.

He passed away on October 29, 2009. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with Full Military Honors. The reception afterward was held at the historic Ft. Myer Officer's Club, also known as Patton Hall, where General Patton had his offices and where the Wright Brothers tested the first Military plane. It was catered by former White House Chef, Marco Rosa. He was the Chef for Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Following the reception, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, paid his respects and visited with the family.
In 2010, the California State Assembly passed a Resolution in his honor detailing the accomplishments of his life. Also in 2010, he was entered into the permanent "In Memoriam" registry on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Emmy Awards website. The "In Memoriam" registry honors the people who contributed to television who have passed away (the entry about Anderson is still on the website: 

Anderson is survived by his brother, James; daughters, Kristine, Katherine and Candace; six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.