By Taylor Goodson
COMPTON — A local post office will be renamed in honor of the nations’ first African American Marine Medal of Honor winner, James Anderson Jr., under legislation introduced in Congress by Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán.
Anderson was a Marine private first class who was killed during the Vietnam War in February, 1967.
“PFC Anderson made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.” Barragán 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.”
Anderson was born in Los Angeles Jan. 22, 1947. He attended elementary school in Willowbrook and graduated from high school in Compton.
After a year and a half at Los Angeles Harbor College, Anderson enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in February 1966.
According to service records, Anderson sent to Vietnam in December 1966 as part of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division in Quang Tri Province. Two months later, while on patrol Anderson’s platoon was ambushed by heavy enemy fire.
During the fight, an enemy grenade landed near Anderson, who curled his body around the grenade and absorbed a significant part of the blast, killing him instantly. His action saved many lives of the Marine around him.
On Aug. 21, 1968, the Secretary of the Navy Paul R. Ignatius awarded the Medal of Honor to Anderson for his heroic gesture in Vietnam. He become the first African-American Marine to receive the medal.
Barragán introduced the bill to rename the post office recently. Her office has approached the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the House committee that oversees the U.S. Postal Service, about quickening the bill’s process.
“The tentative plan is to reintroduce the bill early next year then work with the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to get it added to an early markup,” said Ron Eckstein, communication director for Barragán.
Once the bill is approved by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, the Compton post office will be officially be renamed, Eckstein said.
“We’ll work with local groups to organize a ceremony once the bill becomes law,” he added.