COLUMBIA — During his first tour of duty in Iraq in 2005, Sgt. Phillip R. Anderson acted in a way that didn’t surprise the people who knew him well.
In the city of Aquba, a roadside bomb blew up next to the Hummer that Anderson was driving. Traveling with him were two fellow servicemen.
Anderson was thrown from the vehicle, and shrapnel became lodged in his neck. Although severely injured, he rescued his lieutenant, who had a broken leg, and a passenger in the back seat, who was also seriously injured.
After he recovered in a military hospital in Germany, he was quickly re-deployed to Iraq where he finished serving his first tour of duty.
Anderson was awarded the Purple Heart.
Besides the Purple Heart, Sgt. Anderson’s decorations included the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Service Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge and Driver-Mechanic Badge.
“He was a tough kid with a kind heart,” said his father, Ken Anderson, who lives in Columbia. “He just always seemed to stand up for people and animals who couldn’t defend themselves.”
On March 10, 2008, while serving his second tour of duty in Iraq, Sgt. Phillip R. Anderson, 28, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Hood, Texas, died after the Hummer he was driving hit a roadside bomb in the town of Balad Ruz, northeast of Baghdad. A captain, a specialist and an interpreter also died in the explosion.
Anderson’s funeral was held March 20 in Spanaway, Wash.
His sister, Beth Anderson, who lives in San Francisco, said she thought her brother was thinking about financial security for his wife and child when he decided to go back to Iraq for a second tour of duty.
“After being in the Army for almost nine years, he was thinking what would be best for his family,” Beth Anderson said. “I just think he decided that since he was almost halfway to retirement that he would stay until he could retire to try and get the benefits for his wife, Melanie, and his son, Warner.”
Ken Anderson said his son was above all a loving husband and father.
“He was a great father and he loved Warner very much,” Ken Anderson said. “He was a kid at heart and very involved father. I could tell right away after Warner was born that he was a good father.”
Anderson was born in Mexico, Mo., but grew up in Columbia where he attended Rock Bridge High School. After a year of school, he moved to Everett, Wash., where his sister Beth was living. He earned his high school equivalency and then joined the Army.
His wife and child live in Graham, Wash. His mother, Raven Bren, lives in Oakland, Calif.
Ken Anderson said that his son’s decision to join the military made him proud because it affected his son’s life in a positive way.
“The Army gave him the direction and certain way to do things, and I think he liked that,” Ken Anderson said. “I’m just proud of how he changed his life from a typical rebellious teenager to an upstanding citizen.”