Doctors Hospital has a special patient for Veterans’ Day — an 89-year-old private first class who served with the celebrated World War II Tenth Mountain Division that fought the German Army in the snowy Italian Alps in 1944.
Alfred A. “Bud” Anderson of Manteca went to war on his skis as did many of his fellow soldiers who were drafted out of Washington state and his home state of Colorado. The Army needed men who were proficient on skis who could navigate the wintry countryside held by the Germans.
“They hunted me down,” he said of the army. “They needed skiers.”
Anderson grew up in Glen Elder, Kansas with three older sisters. He was the baby in the family and 19 when he went into the Army.
Bud was in a second floor hospital bed Monday afternoon with his daughter Marla Terrell at his side. Hospital CEO Nicholas “Nico” Tejeda made a special visit to meet him and learn of his service during the war, offering him anything he needed and leaving him his business card for a speedy contact.
Anderson wore a military baseball cap in bed that read, “Veterans Made America #1.”
He was born in Mitchell County Kansas in 1925 and literally grew up on skis in the Rockies of Colorado near Dillon, his daughter said. He moved to Hanford, WA, in 1943 where his dad worked in atomic plants.
He entered the Army in 1944 with basic training at Camp in Florida and joined the 10th Mountain Division at Camp Swift, disappointed that he had missed being at Camp Hale in Colorado.
PFC Anderson received orders to Italy after intense mountain training where he ascended Mt. Belvedere with his platoon in the darkness and under heavy fire. Both of his sergeants were killed in the fire fight. He recalls one of his sergeants organizing an assault on the enemy that turned the fight with a dozen soldiers to their advantage. The plan was to move toward the enemy position, each with a hand grenade. They threw the grades on command toward the unsuspecting enemy. Many were wounded and killed, he recalled.
He said he survived a subsequent deadly German assault that overran his unit as he laid still among bodies of soldiers until daylight. The Germans thought he was dead, he said. Anderson rejoined his unit at daybreak and together they stormed the enemy entrenchments. He then escorted enemy prisoners off the mountain to a position behind the lines.
Anderson was wounded in another conflict near Della Spa and rejoined his company after being released from the hospital for a rifle wound that penetrated his right shoulder. He was placed on light duty with a motor pool assignment until his discharge.
Two battle stars, a Purple Heart and a Good Conduct medal were awarded to Anderson prior to his honorable discharge April 30, 1946. After returning home he worked with the Operating Engineers Local #3 of Central California until his retirement.
President of the Turner Publishing Co., Dave Turner, showed a great respect for the men of the 10th Mountain Division when he published a book on the World War II fighters, saying:
“The 10th Mountain Division was forged out of the need for an elite fighting unit trained to succeed in harsh conditions. Training in snowy mountain country out of Ft. Lewis, Washington, and Camp Hale with later training at Camp Swift, the 10th prepared itself for campaigns in the Aleutian Islands and in the Italian Alps. When victory was declared in Europe, the 10th Mountain Soldiers were heralded as some of the toughest, best trained fighters in World War II. The modern division continues to carry the torch today of this proud group of veterans,” Turner wrote.
Dean Carmichael, president of the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division said, “There will never again a combat division assembled by a civilian organization such as the National Ski Patrol.”