GLOVERSVILLE — Ambrose “Cowboy” Anderson of Gloversville, who served during the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II, and was inducted into the New York state Senate Veterans Hall of Fame. He is one of the nation’s first African American U.S. Marines inducted into the Veteran’s Hall of Fame. This year’s induction was done virtually due to COVID-19.
The New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding veterans form the Empire State who have distinguished themselves both in military service and civilian life.
This past summer, state Sen. Jim Tedisco presented Anderson with the New York State Senate Liberty Medal outside his Gloversville home in celebration of the veteran’s 95th birthday.
“Corporal Ambrose ‘Cowboy’ Anderson is a true American hero who served our country in World War II with honor and valor during the Battle of Iwo Jima as a member of that ‘Greatest Generation’ of Americans who saved our world from darkness,” said Tedisco in a news release. “Unfortunately, Corporal Anderson, and many of the African Americans who served at the time experienced racism and discrimination and did not get the recognition he and his colleagues deserved. I am proud and honored to help rectify that with this long-overdue heartfelt recognition by the state of New York for Ambrose Anderson’s courageous service by inducting him into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame.”
Anderson, a star football player at Gloversville High School, served in the 8th Ammunition Company. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943 and was assigned to the segregated Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville, N.C., where about 20,000 African American Marines served from 1942 to 1949, enduring terrible prejudice and racism.
While on a battleship sailing to Iwo Jima, Anderson’s ship was attacked by Japanese kamikaze pilots.
Anderson crawled into a hole and started feeding a gunner machine gun ammunition.
The next day, he looked out and saw the bodies of Marines floating in the sea and entwined with driftwood on the beach. On Iwo Jima, Anderson hauled ammunition and supplies from incoming ships to the shore and delivered them to white infantry units on the front lines, often amid rounds flying around their heads.
After Iwo Jima, Anderson served in the occupation of Japan at Sasebo.
Sadly, Anderson received no recognition after World War II and had difficulty finding work. Eventually, he went to work in his brother’s junkyard. Ultimately, he worked as a truck mechanic, retiring from Ryder in 1986.
Fortunately, in recent years our country has begun to recognize and express its deep gratitude and respect for the service and sacrifice of Corporal Anderson and his colleagues as the Montford Point Marines were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Anderson has six children, including four with his second wife, Betty, who he was with for 47 years until her passing in 2004.
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