551st PIB

Sergeant Robert E. Anderson

A Company

551st Parachute Infantry Battalion


Sergent Robert E. Anderson
Serialnumber: 39024770
A Company, 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion

Home: Berkeley, Alameda County, California
Born: 3 January 1912
Entered service on: 30 January 1942
Death: 3 January 1945



On January 3rd, 1945, the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion assaulted the small hamlets of Mont de Fosse, St. Jacques, and Dairomont. How Robert died is written down by Lt. Dick Durkee in a journal dated in March 1945 Which book is unknown to me. Lt Dick Durkee: “On the 3rd of January the push started [..]. As we crossed the line of departure the weather was cloudy and very cold and it looked like snow. […] Our first objective was Derriere Wester which we took and captured two sniper left there to delay us. We pushed forward and soon things were getting bad. […] I went forward and found the 3rd platoon halted by some more German snipers. […] I then took a BAR and with the aid of Sgt. Anderson, crawled around the right flank and killed one of the snipers and the other got away. Sgt. Anderson was killed then. He was a former coal miner and was a very popular man in the company. I asked him if he was hit bad and he raised his hand in a sort of salute that seemed to say ‘I’m OK’ -- and then he died.”

I (Tjarco) adopted the grave of Sgt. Bob Anderson in January 2010. Later, after becoming friends with Marco Eradus I decided to ask him to share this adoption. Marco cares very much about the 551st GOYA's. And since he and I became close friends to the Anderson family it was no more than logical to have the honor to share the adoption and the legacy of this hero together.
More about Sgt. Bob Anderson can me seen on the Grand Menil website of Bob Konings:

Grand Menil

Memorial Day weekend 2012

On Memorial Day weekend 2012 the Anderson family attended the Memorial Day ceremony at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery. At the grave we had our own little ceremony where I had the privilege to say a few words. Marco also spoke and I will add a little part of what he said that day. It is a prayer of Ltc. Wood Joerg which he had on him the day he died (January 7th, the day of the last battle for the GOYA birds):

Oh God, Commander of all men,
We stand before thee asking
for thy help in execution of
the many tasks which confront
us.Give us strength, courage
daring, intelligence and devotion
to duty, so that we may from day
to day perfect ourselves as
fighting men-so that some day,
in some foreign land - we may
by our fighting ability, bring
glory to ourselves, our country
and thee. And Oh God, if the
price we must pay for etenral
freedom of man great, give us
strength so that we will not
hesitate to sacrifice ourselves
for a cause so sacred.
All of this we ask in thy name.

It was a brutal battle for the 551st in the days from 3 till 7 January. Approximately 800 men started out with the 551st and on Januray 7th, the battalion had only 14 officers and 96 enlisted men left, of which 45 were walking wounded. Gregory Orfalea said it in beautiful words:
"More Americans were killed or wounded in the Battle of the Bulge than at Gettysburg abd Antietam combined; more in the blood-freezing six weeks in Belgium and Luxembourg than in four years at the height of the Vietnam War, 1968-1972. So overpowering was this climactic battle of WW2 that those who fought in it were silenced by it for huge swaths of their lives. Gratitude that one had survived, or prevailed, could not help but run aground on the memory that one's soul was scorched by all the dead. Or made cold. And that cold, for the rest of one's life, too, had to be fought."

Robert E. Anderson on Fields of Honor Database


He is buried on American War Cemetery Henri-Chapelle, Belgium: Plot F, Row 1, Grave 44



Robert Anderson and Lou Waters


Hook, Anderson and Schultz


Memorial at la Turbie, France

© 2011