A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

December 2000/January 2001

Veterans Against Drugs Task Force Report

Two Generations of Heroes

By Rich Montgomery

Webster "Andy" Anderson--a VVA life member--is one of Americaís finest patriots and greatest war heroes. His courage and heroism since his service in Vietnam transcend even his feats of bravery on the battlefield. This year, he rode in the Veterans Day parade in Media, Pennsylvania.

The blue ribbon he wears around his neck holds the Medal of Honor, our nationís highest military tribute. Most Medal of Honor recipients, especially African Americans, die before receiving it. Of 20 black soldiers awarded the medal in Vietnam, only two survived. Andy Anderson lost both legs and an arm in the course of earning his. A former resident of Philadelphia, he now lives in Winnsboro, South Carolina.

What brought him to the Philadelphia area over the Veterans Day holiday? For years, Anderson traveled there as part of the Veterans Against Drugs program to present medals for bravery to children who survived random violence and to siblings of children who were murdered. He explained to them how with one arm, he was completely independent. He washed, fed, and dressed himself, drove a car, put his boat in the water, mowed his lawn, worked with electronics, and fixed television sets to earn a living. A few years ago, he suffered a series of strokes that paralyzed his one good arm.

Anderson wanted to meet Brian Oaddams, a victim of random violence who was shot in the neck with a shotgun and paralyzed from the neck down. Oaddams speaks at schools against drug use and violence as part of the "Lost Dreams-Veterans Against Drugs" school program. That same program once included Webster Anderson. Andy and Brian traveled together to Upper Dublin High School to open a week of antidrug, antiviolence activities.

Amtrak and its employees made Andersonís trip possible. They arranged for free passage for him, his wife, and his granddaughter in a deluxe bedroom car for the handicapped--and they gave his wife flowers upon arrival at 30th Street Station, Philadelphia. A large group of Vietnam veterans joined Amtrak employees and Sharif Street (Mayor John Streetís son) as part of the welcoming committee. Two buglers announced their arrival, and the U.S. Marine Corps provided a military escort. Vietnam Veterans of America provided food and hotel accommodations, and the city arranged transportation.

Brian Oaddams was waiting for Andy Anderson and his family at the station in his electric wheelchair, which he drives by blowing air into a straw. Brian is part of a new generation of heroes whose drive, courage, and perseverance are reminiscent of the heroes of the Vietnam War generation.

For more information about Sgt. Webster Anderson, visit http://www.mishalov.com/Anderson_W.html  Rich Montgomery, the coordinator for Veterans Against Drugs, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, can be reached at 215-560-3205.

   

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