Cover photo for Richard Anderson's Obituary
Richard Anderson Profile Photo
1926 Richard 2017

Richard Anderson

March 8, 1926 — October 22, 2017

The "greatest generation", the ones who got the job done, the men and women who served their country at home and abroad, tough as nails, true to their families and country, and especially, had true grit. Richard Earnest Anderson, Captain USN Ret. was all of these and more.

He is best described by this passage in the book written by a former Navy Seabee who served under Dick in Vietnam, "The Little BIG Things" by Tom Peters:

Captain "Day" and "Captain "Night": A tales of two deployments and two suggestions: “In 1966, I was an ensign in the United States Navy, serving in a combat engineering battalion ("Seabees") in Danang, Vietnam. Per the Navy Seabee routine, I was deployed to Vietnam for nine months, came home for three, and went back for another nine. With the tooth fairy looking over my shoulder, I lucked out and had two wildly different "COs" (commanding officers); taken as a pair, their impact on my worldview remains enormous 44 years later. (Pretty close to "all-you-need-to-know" status.)

To this day, I call them "day" and "night". My first CO, Dick Anderson (Captain Anderson!), was "day." Our job was to build stuff--roads, bridges, camps, gun emplacements, etc.--mostly for the U.S. Marine Corps. Captain Andy's approach could be summarized in three words, subsequently made immortal by Nike; namely, "Just do it". Or, more accurately in our case, "JUST GET THE DAMN THING BUILT-AS FAST AS YOU CAN." He made it clear to the junior officers, including me, that we were to do whatever the hell our CPOs/chief petty officers told us to do. (These were the senior enlisted men whom, in theory, we had life and death authority over--as far as our CO was concerned, it was pretty much the other way around.) Above all, Captain Andy wanted no excuses of any flavor--monsoon rains that made everything impossible were our problem, not God's. "WHAT, DO YOU ONLY BUILD WHEN IT'S SUNNY, MR? PETERS?" (Typical Andersonism.) Captain Andy, in retrospect, gave us a ridiculous amount of autonomy--and expected us to rise to the occasion. Oh, and when he gave us hell, which was frequently, it always ended with a smile from his weather-beaten face: "You'll sort it out Tom, I have no doubt." The upshot was that we got a lot of work done, and done well, in short order.”

Richard, Dick or Capt. Andy, as he was best known as, was born in North Little Rock, Arkansas March 8, 1926, to Victor Earnest Anderson and Lillian Josephine Griffith. His journey through life was a long one, and with an abundance of experiences. He grew up with his three siblings, oldest sister Maude, younger sister Mary, and his little brother Tom, in North Little Rock, graduating from North Little Rock High School and joining the Army Air Corps upon graduation 1944-45. World War Two was over shortly after, whereupon he entered college, receiving a degree in civil engineering from the University of Arkansas in 1949. He joined the United States Navy as an Ensign in 1952, and married Mary Ann Fitch of Carlisle, Arkansas, whom he met in Washington, D.C. in 1953. He proceeded to receive his masters in Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He advanced through the grades to Captain in 1968 retiring in 1974. He was Vice President of Ocean Resources, Inc Houston, Texas until 1977, manager of maintenance and operations Holmes and Narver, Inc., Orange, California 1978, President of Northern Resources, Inc., Billings, Montana 1978-81, owner and operator of Anderson Ranches, Pony, Montana 1982-1989.

He was a former partner and remained a good friend of Bill Palmer of Red Lodge, Montana, through their connection in a land and cattle business that they formed and ran for several years, with a vision way before their time. Dick's passion for Montana and love of the land he ranched on, preceded him throughout the rest of his life.

Lt. Richard E. Anderson with the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps, served as executive officer of Detachment Bravo, the Navy's wintering party which manned seven Antarctic science stations throughout 1957-58 in Antarctica, chosen on the basis of professional capability, maturity and physical fitness, he took part in the second phase of the Navy's Operation Deep Freeze. While serving in Antarctica, he was in a helicopter crash sustaining severe burns over his body. Unable to get him to a hospital in the states due to the Antarctic winter, he stayed there, nursed by the small staff. Within a few months, he was flown to the Naval Hospital Bethesda, Maryland, where he was finally healed of his wounds.

In 1964, while serving at the United States Naval Ammunition Depot Bangor, Bremerton, Washington, Dick received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. Witnessing an automobile accident in which a gravel truck hit the rear of an automobile which landed in a ditch and burst into flames, Lieutenant Commander Anderson, along with a companion, immediately went to the assistance of the woman driver of the burning vehicle who was trapped in the flaming wreckage. Breaking the window on the driver's side, Lt. Commander Anderson entered the vehicle through the window and partially effected the rescue of the unconscious victim before he himself was almost overcome by the dense smoke. Along with his companion, they completed the rescue. By his prompt and courageous actions in the face of great personal risk, he was directly instrumental in saving the life of the woman. His selfless efforts were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Commander Anderson received the Silver Star in 1965 for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as commanding officer of the United States Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Nine near Da Nang, Vietnam.” During the night, his battalion was suddenly struck by intense mortar and automatic weapons fire delivered by insurgent Viet Cong forces. Disregarding his own safety, Commander Anderson courageously moved to his command post and in doing so was wounded in the leg by mortar fragments. Ignoring his painful wounds and the incessant fire, he took direct control of the execution of his effective defensive plan. He moved about the camp, directing the care and evacuation of the wounded, encouraging his men. He resolutely rejected treatment of his wound until all other known wounded had been treated.

Other awards and honors include the Legion of Merit with Combat V, Meritorious Service Award, Purple Heart and Anderson Peninsula named after him in Antarctica.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Mary Ann (Fitch) Anderson originally of Carlisle, Ark., his sister Maude Wright of North Little Rock, Ark., and his brother Tom Anderson of Sherwood, Ark.,. He is survived by his daughters and their families Vicki and John Shampeny, of Manhattan, Montana and Anita and Kane Quenemoen of Clancy, Montana, sister Mary Ann Kimberlin of Hot Springs, Arkansas, niece Wista (Larry) Jones of Maumelle, Ark., sister-in-law Donna Anderson of Sherwood, Ark. nephew Todd (Olivia) Anderson of Beebe, Ark., and the Stan Keaton family of Benton, Arkansas and the Mart Thaxton families of Carlisle, Arkansas.

An extension of extreme gratitude from the Shampeny family goes out to Dick's doctor, Dr. Marks of Ennis, Mt. and the nursing home staff at the Madison Valley Manor, whose complete kindness, and exceptional care made his transition from this life to his next adventure, gracious and respectful.

The wonderful family and friends in his life, made his last years memorable, and we thank you.

Interment will take place at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Richard Anderson, please visit our flower store.


Visits: 10

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree