On Wednesday morning, Lee Anderson, 91, headed for the same restaurant he eats at every day with the same friends and eating the same meal. But the World War II veteran was not going to have the usual morning at the restaurant. Instead, something that occurred 72 years ago would finally be honored on this morning.
Back on March 11, 1945, Anderson was fighting in the Battle of Iwo Jima when an explosion gave him a concussion. He was sent to a military hospital and then spent four months recuperating at Camp Pendleton. Because he was injured in battle, he was eligible for the Purple Heart. Anderson never applied for the award and never would have been honored with it if his children hadn’t taken action.
His son, Todd Anderson, said that they were looking at their father’s military records and saw where he was wounded in action at Iwo Jima but found no mention of a Purple Heart.
Lee had never discussed the war. He never talked about how his best friend died almost immediately upon arriving at the island or about how the concussion disoriented him so badly that he pointed his pistol at the medic who was trying to save him.
According to Todd, Lee is a simple man who worked every Saturday fixing people’s plumbing without charging anything for the work.
Todd noticed a couple of letters from Lee to his parents where he described his injuries. Todd then undertook a year-long process that culminated in his receiving a Purple Heart and several other medals. He and his brothers decided to surprise their father with the honors, NBC Southern California reported.
Lt. Col. Aaron Doty performed the honor of presenting the medals to Lee.
Lee was overcome with emotion as he thanked his sons for their work. He then told the assembled crowd stories about his time in the military and his life since.