Alvin Theodore Anderson
United States Navy, Radio Technician 2nd Class, USS Quapaw
World War II (1943-1946)
Alvin Theodore Anderson was born on February 14, 1925 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He grew up in Colorado Springs and graduated from high school there. Before entering the service, he worked for a sheet metal company as well as for a roofing company.
Anderson started his service in the Navy in June 1943. His family knew that most young men out of high school served, so it came to them as no surprise when he was drafted. He was able to serve in the Navy, just as he had requested. He went to boot camp in Farragut, Idaho. Anderson said that boot camp entailed “a lot of marching, a lot of training, and a lot of getting acquainted with Navy activity.” In boot camp, they even learned how to write neatly. Before signing their insurance papers, they all had to go to a chirography class for “several hours to learn how to write our name.” Before going on to sign the papers, the signature had to be approved by an instructor. He said that his training was effective. During his time in boot camp he took a lot of tests, which set him up for more school before he was deployed.
From basic training in Farragut, Idaho, Anderson went to Michigan City, Indiana where he stayed for a month. He then went to Stillwater, Oklahoma where he went to Oklahoma State University for three months. He then spent six months in Treasure Island, California. In all of the different schools, he learned about radio, electronics, and radar. After all of this schooling, he became a radio technician. After his schooling in Treasure Island, he went back to his home in Colorado Springs for a week or so before being sent to his first assignment.
He started his assignment by leaving Fort Mason by ship and taking a 17-day trip on a troop transport to New Guinea. Anderson then went Manus Island, which is one degree south of the equator. He stayed on Manus Island for a few months, working at a radio repair facility. On Manus Island, he slept in a tent right near the jungle’s edge. He later went to the Philippines to Leyte Gulf, where he was stationed on a receiving ship where he waited for a month to be assigned to another ship. He then was assigned to the USS Quapaw. On the Quapaw he maintained the radio and radar equipment. He stayed on the Quapaw for about six months.
Anderson was discharged in Camp Shoemaker, California on January 1946. He was happy to get out and was very well received by his fellow Americans. He then went and visited his brother in Los Angeles and he then went back to Colorado Springs.
In September 1946, he enrolled at the University of Southern California. He received a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He then worked for a utility company for a year and a half back in Colorado. During this time in Colorado he married. He then moved back to California but did not stay for long and went to the East Coast. They later moved back to California.
He has been an active member in his USS Quapaw reunions. He has been able to travel across the country going to different Quapaw reunions. One of his favorite reunions was when the Veterans and their families were able to go on the ship, and the captain took them around the Santa Barbara Highlands. He has joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization. Anderson has remained in touch with two other members of the USS Quapaw after his service.
He feels that his service was justified because the country was at war, and they were protecting themselves. He thinks that we should remember to respect our country. Although Anderson observed that although the service is not for everyone, he does say that “if you can put up with the regimentation, and you are patriotic, then [serving] is a good thing.” He said that service is effective in instilling discipline. The military also taught him right from wrong. He says that people should do the best they can and lead a good life.
Interviewed by James Stanton Leavitt on June 28, 2012.