Tara Bone, contributing writer
The parades are over, the fireworks have been lit, and now July 4, 2017 is a memory. But for Carl Anderson of Hyrum, a World War II veteran, the meaning behind the Fourth of July stays with him all year.
Carl’s life of service began in St. Charles, Idaho on August 24, 1925. With a smile, Carl points out that this August he will be 92 years young. He grew up on a farm ranching until he was 17. After high school graduation, he joined the United States Navy during World War II.
“All of my friends had gone, some guys came through school taking enlistments, and three of us joined,” Carl said. “We graduated on a Friday night, and Monday morning we were in Pocatello in the service.”
Carl traveled to northern Idaho for boot camp, then Moscow, Idaho for radio school. He adds, “I didn’t get out of Idaho for over six months!” He was one of three radiomen, or as they were called “dit-da boys” because of the Morse code he used, assigned to a small craft ship on the Aleutian Islands.
For the next three years, from 1943 to 1946, Carl spent all of his time on the ocean-going tug. They followed the fleet of battleships and cruisers in case they needed fire power and pulled targets for them.
“When ships were in trouble on the ocean, we’d go out and bring them in from bad storms and help where we could,” Carl said.
He recalls fond memories with the 35 to 40 men he served with on the small ship, saying they were “just like a big family.” They encountered cold weather in the Bearing Sea and near Alaska, but Carl said he was a “Bear Laker” who knew something about cold weather.
Carl was the radioman on Sunday mornings. He had access to the radio and loud speakers on the ship, so he would put on The Mormon Tabernacle Choir over the speakers.
“It didn’t take them long to figure out I was a Mormon,” Carl said. “They did enjoy the music because other than that there wasn’t much to hear on the radio.”
Carl heard about the end of the war on – where else – the radio. In a scrapbook he still cherishes, he saved an “end of the war” sign to remember the day: Tuesday, August 14, 1945.
Before he could come home, there was more to do. Carl said the Aleutian Islands weren’t far from Siberia, Russia. At the end of the war, Russia wanted a U.S. weather stationed removed from that area.
“We went in to bring the weather station out,” Carl said. “On the way in we went over the dateline and lost one day. We brought it out on Christmas day and we had our Christmas dinner, then we came back across the dateline and it was Christmas again.” Two Christmas dinners on December 25, 1945.
Talking about his military service, Carl said, “I was proud and happy to be there. I was happy to come home in uniform.”
But Carl didn’t stay home for long. He left Bear Lake again and served a mission in Finland for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for two and half years, beginning in 1948. He said he enjoyed his service, but had a difficult time with the language.
“They didn’t have any language schools – we had to learn it off the street,” he said “We had to get people there to teach us and talk to kids and senior citizens – any way we could do the practicing.”
After Carl returned home, he said a buddy invited him to Elite Hall in Hyrum where he met Dorothy Lemon of Paradise. Carl left the ranch for good when he married Dorothy the next spring in 1953.
They built a life of work, service and family. They had two boys and one daughter. Carl served in many capacities to help neighbors, including bishop for Hyrum First Ward. A highlight for him was serving as the agent Bishop when the current Hyrum Stake Center was built.
He worked at EA Miller and Sons for about 22 years, then as a custodian for the Hyrum Stake until 1993 when Dorothy died. His wife and two sons died within six years of one another from cancer. Stephanie Miller, family member and current mayor of Hyrum City, said having faith is what helped Carl through the adversities of life.
In 1999, Carl married Elaine McMurdie. Their children had grown up together as friends and of Elaine, Carl says she “has really, really been a blessing to me.” Together they have a total of 35 grandchildren and 60 great-grandchildren.
“All of them know each other and they are all happy to have us together,” Elaine said. “It just seemed really neat that we could be together now, but we were both alone.”
Carl and Elaine are grateful for the Hyrum Library and Senior Citizen Center. Carl has been an active member of the American Legion Post 47 since moving to Hyrum in the late 1950s, and has always enjoyed singing. He sang in the Imperial Glee Club for 13 years.
At the conclusion of another July holiday season, consider the meaning of patriotism and the life of Carl Anderson: a patriot who gives his all to his family and country.