On Friday, Nov. 10, Gov. Spencer Cox will honor all World War II veterans over 100 years old. Lee Anderson, Lehi resident, is one of the approximately 20 to be recognized.
Anderson, originally from Ephraim, explained how he loved airplanes and wanted to join the Army Air Corps (later to be named the Air Force). He and his father had a small airplane pilot training program in Ephraim which later became associated with Snow College.
“When I was 17, the United States was not involved in the war. I knew I wanted to be involved with airplanes, and when my parents wouldn’t sign the papers for a 17-year-old to be drafted, I left home and went to California to work at Lockheed,” said Anderson.
When the United States officially became involved in the war after the bombing at Pearl Harbor, Anderson was anxious to join the war effort. He decided to quit his job and enlist even though he was making about $200 per week, which would now be equal to over $4000 per week, working at Lockheed.
His experience in flying was instrumental in him being assigned to the First Ferry Command. In this responsibility, he flew B-17s, B-25s, C-47s and any other plane that needed to be taken to its destination point for use in the war.
“These were the big planes,” he said. He confessed that his assignment was much more fun than being engaged in actual combat like his brothers who fought in the Pacific and his buddies who flew in combat missions in Japan and Europe. One of his buddies was shot down in Japan, and another in Europe. He also had an uncle who fought in 19 different battles.
“Dad told us repeatedly that the trained fighter pilots his dad knew were ‘fearless’. Some died in combat, others died of complications from their injuries some time later,” said Anderson’s son, Ron.
After the war, Anderson continued to work with his dad at the pilot training program in Ephraim. He met a cute girl from Manti named Norma. He asked her to dance at the weekly outdoor dance, and she accepted his invitation. Three months later, they were married.
When asked what he attributed his long life to, he said, “I haven’t smoked a cigarette or had a drink since 1956. I also had the best wife in the world. She was a great cook. Her life was dedicated to serving people. She made hundreds of quilts for babies and Relief Society projects. She had six sewing machines that she kept busy most of her life.”
When asked what he worried about now, he said, “I don’t worry about anything much anymore. Maybe my health. I should worry about what’s going on in the world, but we can’t do anything about it.”
Anderson has three sons, Ron, Sandy and Larry, and resides in Lehi with Ron.