Lt. (jg) Richard P. Anderson

Lost In Action - April 6, 1945

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Lt. (jg) Richard P. Anderson was one of the original officers helping to put the USS Bush into commission. He had quite a bit of life experience prior to his time with DD-529.

Born September 18, 1918 in Chicago, Illinois - he enlisted in the Illinois National Guard in September 1935 and so served for 3 years, being honorably discharged in September 1938. Less than a year later, on April 10, 1939 he enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve. On July 27, 1942 he accepted an appointment as a Cadet in the Merchant Marine Reserve, U. S. Naval Reserve. Less than one month later, that title was changed to "midshipman" - Merchant Marine Reserve. As that training concluded, on February 3, 1943, he was appointed an Ensign E-M (engineering), retroactive to November 30, 1942 ... superseding his appointment as midshipman in the Merchant Marine Reserve.

The Navy was eager to staff the numerous ships that were being built as part of the war effort. The experienced and capable Ensign Anderson was one of many who helped fill those needs. Thus, on February 15, 1943 his association with the USS Bush began in earnest. He was ordered to report to the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, USN, San Francisco, California for active duty in connection with fitting out a vessel and duty on board that vessel when commissioned. That ship was the USS Bush, commissioned May 10, 1943.

Lt. (jg) Richard Anderson
Richard P. Anderson - WWII Merchant Mariner, USNR
On April 1, 1944, Anderson was promoted from Ensign to Lieutenant (jg). No longer an Assistant Engineering officer, he was given responsibility for all engineering activities as he was made the ship’s “Chief Engineer”. He would maintain this assignment until he and the ship were lost in combat during the battle for Okinawa.

Below are excepts from several letters, along with some pictures. The first two letters Anderson wrote to his brother Harry who was serving in the United States Army's 347th Harbor Craft unit, also in the Pacific Theater. A third letter is to him from his brother Harry. Harry's letter, dated April 10, 1945 was "returned to sender" as Richard Anderson had been killed a few days earlier on the afternoon of April 6th. The two Anderson brothers were very close in age, with Harry being the older one by about 1 year. The final letter from which excerpts are shown is from Commander Rollin E, Westholm, the Commanding Officer of the USS Bush at the time of her sinking. This last letter was written to Anderson's father to share information about Rich's death and service aboard the USS Bush.

Beyond the glimpse into Anderson's personality and strong family ties, these letters help remind us how much slower information traveled during World War II than occurs today.

January 27, 1945

Dear Harry -

Since I last wrote, I was in on the Mindoro and Luzon invasions. We have a few more planes and also a few small Jap ships to our credit. Had our first real eggs today in two months. I was getting to like those dehydrated ones.

There are only four of our officers left who were aboard when the ship was commissioned.

I expect Evelyn and I will get married when I get back. I guess we are pretty far apart and the chances of seeing each other are pretty slim. Let’s hope the war will be over soon and we can be home.

Good luck and Happy New Year

Your bro,

Anderson's special gal -
March 22, 1945

Dear Harry,

Received your letter and it sure takes a long time. It was sent Jan. 2. It sure is good to hear from you. Since I last wrote we were in the landings at Lingayen and also at Iwo Jima. We sure get around. Some Army boats came alongside while at anchor. I was hoping you were around but they said you were someplace else.

I had hopes of being transferred by this time but I guess I will be aboard for the duration. The officer that came aboard which I hoped was my relief got sick and was sent to a hospital. It’s pretty good aboard this ship but I would like a change for the experience. Not to mention a 30 day leave. I have 22 months of sea duty and 17 months out the States. Of the 22 months there has been only two days that I have been off the ship.

So much for now and write soon. Good luck and take it easy.

Your bro,

Anderson with family
May 1944 - some rare time in San Francisco with family & friends-
From right to left - brother Harry, Lt. (jg) Richard Anderson, step mother Helen,
unknown, and Rich and Harry's father - the original Harry Anderson.

April 10, 1945 - Returned to Sender

Dear Rich,

Glad to hear from you. I figured that you were probably pretty busy. And I was right! Every time that I hear anything about a destroyer I sweat it out. You are getting your share of it. You’ll have plenty to tell your grand children. How the hell will you ever be able to walk on the good earth again? After all those months aboard ship.

How is Evelyn? I hear from her every so often. I have been writing to that girl in Michigan. But I don’t know. I’ll be quite a tramp for quite awhile when I am a civilian.

Take it easy Rich. I am pulling for you every minute. Best of luck. I know that you need it.

Your bro,

4 June, 1945

My dear Mr. Anderson:

It is with deep regret that I, Senior Surviving Officer of the USS BUSH, write to you concerning your son, Richard P. Anderson, who was listed as missing in action after the sinking of the BUSH. A careful review of the facts has led to the conclusion that he was killed in action.

Richard was at his battle station as “Engineering Officer” in the forward engine room at the outset of the action. It was here that we received our heaviest damage and the area was a mass of torn and twisted steel mostly underwater. He must have been killed instantly at his post by the terrific blast and concussion of the hit. The circumstances of the damage and the subsequent loss of the ship prevented recovery of his body and personal effects.

“Andy” had been aboard almost two years and in a short time would have been promoted to Lieutenant. His work in the engineering department was outstanding. The BUSH was ready to go at any time due to his efforts. He always had a ready smile and a keen sense of humor. No one could have asked for a better shipmate. His loss is felt very profoundly by all of us who survived. Your son’s courage and performance of duty were in the best traditions of the naval service. I can only say that we share your sorrow and will always hold the memory of Richard’s sacrifice for his country in our hearts.

Very sincerely,

Commander, U. S. Navy
Former Commanding Officer

Pictured below are images of the Purple Heart and related certificate dated August 4, 1945 awarded Lt. (jg) Richard Anderson.
Purple Heart awarded Lt. (jg) Richard Anderson
Based on USS BUSH related research, it is believed that Purple Heart recipients who survived their injuries, often got no such certificate or an inscribed medal. That protocol was reserved for those, like Anderson, who were killed as a result of their injuries.

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