Lester R. Anderson, Jr.
Electrician's Mate 3rd Class
U. S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 08/1943 - 12/12/1945
Electrician , USS Neches (AO-47)

He grew up picking cotton, feeding mules and hogs, and gathering wood for stove and fireplace. "That was just a way of life back then," says Lester of his boyhood. He was born in Hodge, Louisiana, but soon moved with his family to a farm near Quitman, Louisiana. Lester was squirrel hunting on Sunday, December 7, 1941. "I came in and heard about it. I said, `Well, here I go,'" he recalls of the news of Pearl Harbor. Lester volunteered for the U.S. Navy, and sailed into the Pacific on October 13, 1942 on the USS Neches (AO-47), a fleet oiler that fueled other ships and planes. He served almost the entire war on that vessel, once staying aboard for eighteen months. He saw action off Guadalcanal, the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. "I had a ringside seat for Iwo Jima," he says. He watched the Marines land and saw through binoculars the flag-raising event on Mount Suribachi. He remembers when his ship plucked two downed Japanese pilots from a life raft, and incarcerated them in the brig for two weeks. "When they brought them out they stood there and they were just amazed," he says. "Just as far as they could see were ships. They had been told they had destroyed all our Navy." Lester sailed into Yokohama at war's end, and watched the surrender ceremony on the USS Missouri (BB-63). He remembers Japanese civilians as "nicest people you ever hope to meet." Lester was discharged on December 12, 1945 in New Orleans. He spent most of his career in glass manufacturing.