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For Anderson, Navy was ticket to see the world

VALLEY — Our Valley Times-News Veteran of the Week, Ray Anderson, served our country as a member of the U.S. Navy during the Korean War era and is today an active member of American Legion Post 67. He says that he was honored to serve our country and honored to be a Legion member.

Being in the Navy was his ticket to see the world.

“For a farm boy who grew up in Alabama it was something to see places like San Diego and especially Hawaii,” he said.

Anderson was in the Navy from 1949-1953.

“I had basic training in San Diego and was then sent to fire control school,” he said. “When I graduated, I was assigned to the USS Toledo, a heavy cruiser. We had a nine-month deployment to the Far East. Two weeks after we got back to the states, the Korean War broke out. We had to make a speed return back to assist with the war effort.”

Anderson had two deployments during the war.

“I was stationed with special services for 17 months in Hawaii,” he said. “That was really nice. I enjoyed it there.”

A memorable experience for him was being assigned as a driver for a Bob Hope USO show.

“He did a show from the fan tail of the USS Missouri. It was great,” he said.

A popular actress of the day, Ann Blyth, was with the show. For a time it looked like young Ray would get to drive her. His commanding officer made the great sacrifice of stepping in and doing that. Anderson did get to see her up close.

“For a young fellow who had been stationed in the Far East for two years she sure was pretty,” he said.

Anderson has lived in Chambers County since 1963. He worked at Fairfax Mill for a number of years before being transferred to WestPoint Pepperell’s over-the-counter department, later on to the records department before winding up his career at Fairfax Mill. He retired in 1989, the year of the Farley disaster.

While some people may have left with golden parachutes, Anderson jokes that he left with a lead one.

Anderson and his wife Dorothy live in the Todd Addition neighborhood. Mrs. Anderson worked for Lanier Memorial Hospital for 35 years and directed the lab. They have two daughters, Toni and Debbie, who are Auburn graduates and who today live in North Carolina.

“They both have good jobs,” Anderson said. “We are really proud of our grandson, Jake Anderson Williamson. He’s a student at Western Carolina University and was recently named to a national honor society for students in construction engineering.”