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Local History

Virgil V. Anderson

"If number of parachute jumps is an index, Virgil Anderson, partner in the Springfield Auto Works on Boonville Avenue and active head of the plant, is a charter and leading member of the Caterpillar club, honor fraternity of ‘chute users.

"Anderson, in training during the war, on the front at the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient and through the Argonne Forest scrap as observer in an observation balloon, made 25 jumps. That was one of the most hazardous jobs in the war.

"His outfit, the 11th Balloon company, attached to the 4th Division in the Argonne and serving variously French and American artillery, lost 75 balloons in nine months’ service on the front. In 90 days out of 208 men, 48 were killed and 40 injured, a matter of 42 percent casualties in three months or at the rate of 127 percent a year. Yet Anderson came through unscathed.

"Once a Fokker pilot aimed badly, and the 'M.G.' bullets tore through the balloon basket in which Anderson was standing, and through a pack of map-photographs in the basket. That was his closest call.

"It is a far cry from jumping overboard several thousand feet in air while the great gas bag above you bursts into flames, to doing repair work on cars, building truck, bus and touring car bodies, running a paint shop and finding out why milady’s car misses. But the war is over.

"Anderson was at Tulsa working in the oil fields when war was declared. He joined up, was sent to Fort Logan in Colorado, and then to the balloon school at Omaha. He was sent to Morrison, Va., then to Newport News. After that with a machine gun outfit he was shipped to Brest.

"In the St. Mihiel drive he was riding a truck with a sergeant when the Germans got the right address. The sergeant received a present of a piece of shrapnel and only the heavy web belt which he wore saved his life. Anderson nose dived off the truck into an extremely muddy ditch, and stayed down until the bombardment ended.

"He decided there was a vast difference between sending a shell somewhere, and being there when it arrived.

"With Lieutenant McDevitt he observed in the short St. Mihiel scrap for a 13 inch railroad gun that with three shots destroyed the historic bridge at Metz.

"Anderson has as partner in his enterprise, his brother-in-law, C.T. Hutchins, who is actively in charge of soliciting new business. The two own control of the Springfield Auto works.

"For three years Anderson worked for Will F. Plumm, a Springfield sewer contractor, and says he benefited from that amiable gentleman’s teachings."

News & Leader, March 24, 1929

The photograph above accompanied the newspaper article. For more information about the War and the Missouri soldiers who served, see Missouri Over There.

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