*A military veteran who served as one of the nation’s first Black U.S. Marines received a medal and a car parade from the New York Senate as a 95th birthday present.
Sen. Jim Tedisco (R,C,I,REF-Glenville) on Friday presented the New York State Liberty Medal, the Senate’s highest honor for service and valor, to Ambrose “Cowboy” Anderson of Gloversville, who served during the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
Tedisco joined Anderson’s family and friends to present the Liberty Medal outside his Gloversville home. Noting the many African Americans who served at the time but never get the recognition they deserved due to racial discrimination. Sen. Tedisco said: “I am proud and honored to help rectify that in some way with this long-overdue heartfelt recognition by the state of New York for Ambrose Anderson’s courageous service.”
Watch below, and scroll down to read about his incredible story.
Corporal 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, Corporal 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.