PFC Walter Pat Andersen


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NAME:
Walter Pat Andersen
NICKNAME:
Wallie
SERVICE NUMBER:
273370
HOME OF RECORD:
Portland, OR
NEXT OF KIN:
Mother, Mrs. Erma Bates
DATE OF BIRTH:
June 17, 1921
ENLISTED:
August 1, 1939
DATE OF DEATH:
October 1, 1942
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE FATE
Corregidor M/3/4 PFC Captured
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Unknown causes. Died in Japanese custody.
INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS:
Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal
LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private First Class
STATUS OF REMAINS:
Unknown
MEMORIAL:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.


Birth and Early Life:
Walter “Wallie” Andersen was born to railroad engineer Harry Andersen and his wife, Erma, on June 17, 1921. He was raised in Portland, Oregon; little other information is available about his early life. (1)

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Andersen joined the Marine Corps on August 1, 1939, and went to San Diego for boot camp. Three months later, he was a bona-fide Marine private; weeks of drilling and mess duty were behind him and he set out for his first duty station in Hawthorne, Nevada.

Service Prior to World War II:
Private Andersen became the newest member of the Hawthorne Naval Ammunition Depot’s guard detachment in December, 1939. While doubtless an important assignment, pacing the grounds of a depot in a barren desert town was hardly glamorous. Andersen put in for a transfer midway through 1940, and on July 20 stepped off the USS Henderson in the Philippine Islands. He reported to the Cavite Navy Yard, and probably celebrated his first year in the Corps with an expedition to one of the surrounding towns.

Andersen was promoted to Private First Class in 1941; he spent most of the year as a guard for the post prison. As the months went by, and warnings of war with Japan seemed more and more credible, Andersen’s detachment was reorganized into the First Separate Marine Battalion; when the 4th Marines arrived from their traditional Shanghai post, the Cavite men were designated as Third Battalion, 4th Marines. PFC Andersen was still getting used to his new assignment when Pearl Harbor was attacked; the Japanese raided Cavite shortly after, and the United States was unequivocally at war.

Wartime Service:
As a member of Company M, 4th Marines, PFC Andersen probably received some hasty training on a heavy machine gun (in Marine regiments of the time, Company M was the heavy weapons unit of a regiment’s Third Battalion). He accompanied the regiment on their withdrawal across the Philippines to the island of Corregidor, where he and his comrades set up defensive positions to repel any Japanese invasion.

Andersen had a close call on March 25, a day of exceptionally heavy air raids. Thirty-four Japanese bombers dropped their payloads on the Marine positions, wounding several men and destroying some important machine gun positions on Skipper Hill. In Andersen’s battalion, eleven men were hit by shrapnel or suffered concussions, but only three required serious medical treatment. Although Andersen wasn’t hospitalized, his wounds were noted and he received the Purple Heart on April 1.

News of the fall of Bataan followed within days, and by early May it was clear that the American and Filipino troops on Corregidor were doomed. When the Japanese finally landed on May 6, Andersen and his allies fought gamely, but were overwhelmed and forced to surrender.

For nearly five months, PFC Andersen withstood the indignities of life as a prisoner of the Japanese. His comrades were beaten, starved, and humiliated on their journey from The Rock to Manila, and then on to their final destination, a prison camp near Cabanatuan.

Date Of Loss:
Walter Andersen was last reported alive on October 1, 1942, at a location somewhere in the Philippines. Within days, he had died of unknown causes, his body disposed of in an unknown grave. (2)

Next Of Kin:
Mother, Mrs. Erma Bates

Status Of Remains:
Unknown

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
_____
NOTES:
(1) Interestingly, the 1940 census states that Andersen’s formal schooling ended in the second grade – around the time of the 1930 census. While the accuracy of this statement can’t be proven, it seems unusual that Wallie would have been able to join the Marines with so little schooling.
(2) NARA’s POW search (and the DMPO) give Andersen’s date of death as October 1, 1942. A roster of the 4th Marines compiled after the war claims he held on until October 10 before dying of disease in the Philippines.

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