In Memory of
Marine Corporal
Vern Marshall Anderson
Ottumwa, South Dakota
Haakon County  
May 5, 1920 - November 20, 1943
Killed in Action at Tarawa, Gilbert Islands

  Vern Marshall Anderson

Vern Marshall Anderson was born on May 5, 1920, to Pearl L. and Lydia Anderson. He had three brothers and one sister: Ceril (Cy) Anderson, Orville ( Jim) Anderson, Donald Anderson, and Opal (Bodkin) Anderson. During his youth Vern grew up in the Ottumwa area northwest of Midland, South Dakota, and attended Haakon County public schools. Vern never married and before he entered the service he was a truck driver. At the age of 18 on October 4, 1938, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and was honorably discharged on March 25, 1939. His project superintendent described Vern as, “Industrious, dependable, and interested in work.”

On December 18, 1941, Vern enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after passing his physical in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Corporal Anderson served in the Asiatic-Pacific area from July 1, 1943, until the time of his death. He saw action against the enemy in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings from August 7-9, 1942, and fought in defense of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands from August 10, 1942, to January 31, 1943. Corporal Anderson was killed in action at Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, on November 20, 1943.

Corporal Anderson’s remains were buried overseas and his resting place is marked with an appropriate designation marker. For his service to his country, Corporal Anderson’s parents received official notice from the Marine Corps that their son would posthumously receive a Purple Heart, a Presidential Unit Citation ribbon bar with two stars, an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and a World War II victory medal. Corporal Anderson’s parents also received a letter signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It read:

In grateful memory of Vern Marshall Anderson, United States Marine Corps,
who died in the service of his country at Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, 20
November 1943. He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to
die that freedom might live, and grow, and increase its blessings. Freedom lives,
and through it, he lives, in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.

Fallen Sons and Daughters of South Dakota in World War II

This entry was respectfully submitted by Sarah Albrecht and Ralph Simons, Philip 8th Grade Middle School, Philip, South Dakota, March 15, 2002. Information for this entry was provided by Betty Jo Sagdalen, Rapid City, South Dakota, a niece of Corporal Anderson, and Marie Gartner, Kadoka, South Dakota, a cousin of Corporal Anderson.