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WWII Vet's Tales Of Bravery Remind Us What Makes The Greatest Generation So Great

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 10/11/2015 Philip Lewis

World War II veteran Thomas E. Anderson still remembers his Army serial number like he got it yesterday: 35796704.

Anderson was assigned to the 84th Division during the Battle of the Bulge, fending off a German counteroffensive in December 1944 in what British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once referred to as "undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war." 

A member of the "Greatest Generation" who lived through the Depression and survived World War II, Anderson turns 91 next month. With Veterans Day right around the corner, he sat down for an interview with The Huffington Post to share his memories of the war.

"The winter of '44 was the worst part of my life," he said. "[I] landed in the mud and the snow, one hot meal maybe every two weeks, temperature was below zero, German troops were coming through at night."

Anderson had a close call in 1945, while serving for the 69th Division. "I was considered to be a demolition expert," he explained.  "I was disarming a bomb and I managed to blow myself up ... I blew my hands up."

"There was some doubt that I would make it," he said, but added that he survived his injuries thanks to the "buddy system," relying on help from his fellow soldiers. 

During the war, Anderson also served as sergeant of the guard on the Queen Mary, which took him overseas to England, France and Belgium. He's dedicated much of his life to service, volunteering in local parades, student education events and veterans programs during the past four years.

Currently, Anderson is a member of several veterans organizations, including the American Legion, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He received 10 medals -- including two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Combat Infantry Badge -- for his military service.

Watch an animated retelling of Anderson's memories from World War II above.

Animation: Kriti Kaur
Interview: Carina Kolodny 

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