Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan, D-San Pedro, Friday announced legislation to rename a Compton post office for the nation’s first Black Marine to receive the Medal of Honor.
Pfc. James Anderson Jr. was “a son of Compton, a patriot and a hero in the purest sense of the word,” Barragan said. “The bravery of this 20-year old was beyond any rational expectation for someone so young, and his family, friends and fellow soldiers still feel the impacts of that sacrifice to this day. It was my honor to introduce legislation to rename a post office in our community in honor of his courage and sacrifice.”
Anderson was born Jan. 22, 1947, in Los Angeles. He attended Carver Elementary School in Willowbrook and graduated from Centennial High School in Compton. He continued his education at Los Angeles Harbor College. After a year and a half, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in February 1966, arriving in Vietnam that December.
On Feb. 28, 1967, while on patrol outside of the village in Quang Tri Province, Anderson’s platoon was ambushed and came under heavy enemy fire. During the ensuing firefight, an enemy grenade landed near Anderson and his fellow Marines. Without hesitation, Anderson pulled the grenade to his chest, curled around it, and absorbed the majority of the blast with his body, heroically saving the lives of the Marines around him at the cost of his own.
On Aug. 21, 1968, Secretary of the Navy Paul R. Ignatius posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Anderson for heroism in Vietnam, the first time a Black Marine received the medal, according to Barragan.
“Private First Class Anderson made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country,” she said. “Renaming the post office in Compton in his honor would recognize his duty and sacrifice and preserve that legacy right here in our community where he grew up.”
Barragan represents California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington.