NHF Naval Heritage Speakers Program: USS Richard B. Anderson (DD-786)

By Dr. Diana L. Ahmad

In April 2021, I received a surprise email from Dr. Dave Winkler asking me if I might be interested in being the banquet speaker for the reunion of USS Richard B. Anderson veterans. I quickly said yes! Then, I looked up the namesake of the vessel.

I learned that Richard Anderson was one of the first U.S. Marines that landed on Roi in the Kwajalein Atoll group of the Marshall Islands in 1944. Sadly, he died during the invasion, but saved his unit earning the Congressional Medal of Honor. In 1988, I taught American history on Roi for the University of Maryland-Asian Division. What a small world it was to be asked to speak in front of this group of thirty-eight veterans of Richard B. Anderson and their wives. I enjoyed their stories and their memories.  

My after-dinner talk was about Captains Benjamin Franklin Tilley who was the de facto governor of American Samoa in 1900 and Richard Phillips Leary who was the governor of Guam in 1900. I compared the first governors of the island territories and concluded that as “men on the spot,” they did a wonderful job given the circumstances of their assignments, such as no financial support for the new territorial governments. 

It was a great pleasure speaking to the group and enjoying my evening with them. Thank you, Dr. Winkler!

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