Print This Page

Private Manfred Carl Anderson

  • Unit: 5th Bombardment Group, 18th Bombardment Wing, Headquarters Squadron
  • Service Number: 16021427
  • Date of Birth: November 19, 1918
  • Entered the Military: November 16, 1940
  • Date of Death: December 7, 1941
  • Hometown: Hancock, Michigan
  • Place of Death: Hickam Field, Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i
  • Award(s): Purple Heart
  • Cemetery: Section M, Grave 295. National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawai'i
Contributed by Caleb Nimee
Mentored by Mr. Brenton Fitzpatrick
Superior Central School

Early Life

Manfred Carl Anderson was born on November 19, 1918, in Hancock, Michigan. As the middle child, he had two older sisters, Dagne and Viola, and two younger sisters, Ellen and Elsie. The children were raised by Charles (Carl) Anderson from Pörtom, Finland, and Aina Marie Anderson from Gamlakarleby, Finland. His parents spoke both Finnish and Swedish because Finland was once part of the Swedish Empire. They immigrated in 1906 and 1909, respectively.

Anderson grew up in a poor neighborhood in a mining town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The family moved into a small “mine house” at 901 North Street in 1924. Anderson’s father worked as a copper smelter for the Quincy Mine Company in the “copper country.”

Anderson was slim but athletic and played for the Hancock High School baseball team. After graduating from high school, Manfred worked as an office clerk with the Roach and Seeber Company in nearby Houghton, Michigan. 


Hancock During the Great Depression

Hancock, Michigan, was like any other small town in the United States. Struck by hard times during the Great Depression, neighbors went hungry and lost jobs, as the mine closed due to low copper prices.

Hancock Aids the War Effort

Many citizens contributed to the war effort in different ways. The Michigan College of Mining and Technology offered various programs and trained women to enter the workforce. The college also provided flight training for the U.S. Army Air Forces.

Many locals participated in rationing supplies needed for the war effort too. When food rationing went into effect, residents set up victory gardens.

The Hancock-Houghton area was unique, serving as a central transportation hub. Portage Lake spanned the entire width of the peninsula. A swing bridge spanned the lake and connected the two cities of Houghton and Hancock. The bridge accommodated railways, automobiles and could swing sideways to allow for large ships to pass by.

The swing bridge was vital to local transportation, serving the local copper mine (which reopened in 1940 for the war effort) and other firms in the region. One such company was the wholesale grocer, Roach and Seeber Company, where Anderson worked as a clerk. It chose Houghton as its centralization point because of the advantage of freight rates.

The U.S. Coast Guard also operated a lifesaving station at the Portage Lake Canal entrance and used the site for recruit training during the war.

Michigan During World War II

Michigan became the Arsenal of Democracy during World War II. Detroit, the world’s motor capital, went from making cars for the public to vehicles for the war. They also produced armaments and manufactured aircraft. Detroit transformed from a struggling city in the Great Depression to one that employed over 350,000 workers who could turn out a B-24 bomber in about an hour. The surge in patriotism seen in Michigan at that time helped change the tide of the war.

Military Experience


Anderson enlisted in November 1940 with the U.S. Army Air Forces in Wausau, Wisconsin. Anderson attended basic training for one month at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, and was assigned to the Headquarters Squadron of the 18th Bombardment Wing, Hawaiian Department. His Military Occupational Specialty was 055, general clerk. He performed a variety of tasks such as compiling, filing, and typing reports and answering telephones.

Hickam Field, Hawai’i

Anderson arrived at Hickam Field in 1941. The field itself, just south of Pearl Harbor, was the only airfield that could handle heavy bombers such as the B-17. Hickam was home to a three-story barracks building, the largest structure on any United States military base. Affectionately known as the “Hickam Hotel,” this building was where airmen and grounds crew slept, got haircuts, mailed letters, and ate in the large mess hall. Private Anderson worked in the communications tower near the field.

Japanese Attack

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese forces attacked Joint Base Pearl Harbor. Japanese planes attacked battleships and cruisers in the harbor and the surrounding airfields to deliver a crippling blow and prevent a counterattack. Many men thought it was just a training operation until the alarms sounded, and bullets started flying.

At Hickam, the enemy forces bombed the runways and hangers and strafed the barracks. At that time, the large B-17s were lined up in rows to protect them from potential sabotage by Japanese spies. However, this procedure ultimately provided easy targets for the Japanese forces. They strafed indiscriminately at the men, planes, and buildings. One bomb dropped on the mess hall, killing 35 Americans.

Private Anderson was killed in action during the initial attack on Hickam Field.

After the Attack

Anderson was one of the 121 men who died at Hickam Field that morning. He was also one of 11 men from Michigan stationed in Hawai’i who died during the attack. His possessions included pass receipts, pass (pass case), ID, notebook, and single black leather wallet.

His remains were initially misidentified and interred at the Schofield Barracks Cemetery on December 9, 1941, under the name Garland C. Anderson. Manfred C. Anderson was listed as missing in action until he was exhumed and properly identified by his fingerprints on December 13, 1941.

Total U.S. Army Air Forces casualties during the attack were 163 killed, 43 missing in action, and 336  wounded. At Hickam Field alone, the U.S. Army Air Forces had 121 killed, 37 missing in action, and 274 wounded.

Out of a total of 231 aircraft for the U.S. Army Air Force, 64 were destroyed. As for the rest of the fleet, no more than 79 aircraft were salvageable for military use. The units at Hickam Field were inactivated and absorbed by the Seventh Air Force until they could get more planes and personnel.

Correspondence With Family

After being notified of Anderson’s death, his family wrote to the Adjutant General (the chief administrative officer for the U.S. Army) on December 15, 1941. They asked for his remains and the death certificate to be sent home “as soon as possible or after hostilities, and any information about his demise to be shared with them.” His youngest sister, Elsie, wrote to the Quartermaster Company at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas City, Missouri, in August 1942 to confirm that Manfred’s personal effects could be mailed to their father. The U.S. Army then sent a carton containing a 13-pound parcel to the Anderson home on August 25, 1942.

In 1947, the Anderson family contacted the Quartermaster General of the War Department in Washington D.C., notifying them of a change of address. Carl Anderson indicated that he had moved to Highland Park, Michigan, to live with his eldest daughter, Dagne.

In 1947, Carl Anderson signed the release paper to have his son interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawai’i. Private Anderson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star device, and the World War II Victory Medal.  


Private Anderson was a hero. He struggled, living with his poor family in Hancock, Michigan. In that mining town of 5,700 people, the Great Depression of the 1930s hit ordinary people hard. He did what he could to help his family, working as a clerk after graduating high school.

Anderson enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1940. He took an oath to protect and defend, something that many of us take for granted. He was assigned to the Headquarters Squadron of the 18th Bombardment Wing and arrived at Hickam Field, Hawai’i in early 1941.

Anderson did not know he would be a part of history on December 7, 1941. He made the ultimate sacrifice on that date, which would live in infamy. We may not know much about how he died or what he was doing at that moment during the attack. We do know that the men at Hickam Field that day defended their base with bravery and courage. They protected our country from an unprovoked attack. To that, we owe everything. Private Anderson is not just another name; he served his country, died under fire, and we shall never forget the sacrifice he made. 


With these past two years, I have learned a lot that I will keep pushing forward with. The ability to fully research a topic with primary and secondary sources and to fact-check to find the truth will carry into my college education. The people I met while researching and everyone coming together to aid in our search was a heartwarming experience. The connections we made in government agencies such as the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and the records offices of the armed services are huge to preserving history. The readings helped me grasp the concept in which we were trying to learn, such as the history of Hawai’i from the formation to the Kingdom Era, which did not narrow until we were actually there. We had great teachers and saw where history happened, something that many people do not get to see.

Then moving onto military history and seeing where our Silent Heroes came into play was such a humbling experience. Being a servicemember myself, enlisting at seventeen into the U.S. Army National Guard, it made me feel so honored to carry the task of researching someone who gave their life in order for us to have the freedoms we enjoy today. Meeting the family, researching his story, and making sure he was not silent anymore will forever be a highlight in my life. It will forever stay with me and I am happy I was a part of this program.




Video created and provided by Pacific Historic Parks



Primary Sources

Anderson Family Photographs. 1940-1941. Courtesy of Anders Hill.

Carl Manfred Anderson. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Swedish American Church Records, 1800-1947. Digital Images.

First Army photos of the bombing of Hawaii… Photograph. 1941. Library of Congress (2017700034).

Gagnon, Earl. Biography – Joseph Fontana. Photograph. 1944. Earl Gagnon Photograph Collection. Michigan Technical University Archives (2007-06-26-002).

Michigan. Houghton County. 1920 U.S. Census. Digital Images.

Michigan. Houghton County. 1930 U.S. Census. Digital Images.

Michigan. Houghton County. 1940 U.S. Census. Digital Images.

Hills, Anders. E-mail message to author. November 11, 2020.

“Manfred Anderson Killed In Action In Hawaii Sunday.” Houghton Daily Mining Gazette, December 13, 1941. Michigan Technical University Archives.

Manfred Anderson, Official Military Personnel File, Department of the Army, RG 319, National Archives and Records Administration – St. Louis.

Manfred C. Anderson. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962. Digital Images.

Manfred Carl Anderson. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946.

Manfred Carl Anderson. World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947. Digital Images.

Manfred Carl Anderson. World War II Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954.

Roach, James T. Roach and Seeber Company. Unpublished Manuscript. 1928. Manuscript Collection, John M. Longyear Research Library, Marquette Regional History Center (MS Case Roach).

View of the Houghton Lions 10 acre Victory Garden project… Photograph. 1943. Michigan Technological University Archives (2007-06-26-002).

Women working in a distillation plant. Photograph. 1943. Michigan Technological University Archives. (MTU Neg 01112).


Secondary Sources

Arakaki, Leatrice R. and John R. Kuborn. 7 December 1941: The Air Force Story. Honolulu: Pacific Air Forces Office of History, 1991.

“Arsenal of Democracy.” Encyclopedia Of Detroit, Detroit Historical Society. Accessed December 4, 2020.

Burgan, Roland. “Portage Lake Bridge History.” City of Hancock. Updated 2005. Accessed December 18, 2020.

Haeussler, John. E-mail message to author. November 18, 2020.

“Hickam Field.” National Park Service. Accessed December 18, 2020.

Lord, Walter. Day of Infamy. Henry Holt and Company, 2019.

Niemeyer, Sara. E-mail message to author. October 2, 2020.

“Portage Canal Live Saving Service Station.” Stanton Township. Updated 2011. Accessed December 18, 2020.

“PVT Manfred Carl Anderson.” Find a Grave. Updated March 3, 2000. Accessed December 4, 2020.

“Welcome to Station Portage.” U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area. Accessed December 18, 2020.

Yardborough, Edward T. “Quincy Mining Company Landscape in Keweenaw National Historical Park.” CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship 7 (1998): 9.