Members of the Fort Jackson rifle salute team renders honors as retired Command Sgt. Maj. Russel Anderson is loaded into a hearse for movement to his interment at the Fort Jackson National Cemetery. (Photo by Emily Hileman)

Fort Jackson, community honors memory of senior NCO

By Veran Hill, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

As somber music played family, friends, Soldiers, and leaders of the community gathered at Fort Jackson’s Daniel Circle Feb. 28, to honor and pay their last respects to retired Command Sgt. Maj Russel Anderson.

Anderson, a Fort Jackson Hall of Fame member, passed away Feb.18. He served as the 13th post command sergeant major from June 16,1989 to Jan. 8, 1993, and was noted as being a stickler for military standards, an epitome of the attributes found in the Noncommissioned Officer Creed, and a servant of the community.

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Melvie Harris said she remembers Anderson as a leader who kept his troops on their toes.

“You never knew when or where Anderson was going to be, so things had to be together,” she said.

“Post beautification, training, having a soldierly appearance when in uniform, and ensuring NCOs knew they were to live up to the ‘Be, Know, Do,’ model of leadership was his thing,” Harris said. “Some liked it, others not so much because he was everywhere. He definitely kept drill sergeants on their toes.”

Anderson enlisted in the Army July 1, 1958, and completed Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training to become a combat engineer. He later reclassified to become an infantryman.

His travels as a Soldier took him on two combat tours to Vietnam. He also served at various duty stations in positions ranging from squad leader, senior drill sergeant, first sergeant, and ultimately, as the unit’s command sergeant major.

After 34 years of honorable military service, Anderson dedicated his time to mentoring Soldiers as they transitioned from military to civilian life, while serving as co-founder and chairman of the U.S. Military Retiree Association.

“Me and Anderson thought there was a need to educate Soldiers who were leaving the Army,” explained retired 1st Sgt. Freddie Murphy, also a member of the Military Retiree Association. “We’d sit them down and assist them with resume’ writing and show them how to interview for jobs.”

“Many got good jobs,” Murphy added.

Anderson taught youth about values of citizenship and the importance of service to their community and nation during his nine years as an Army Junior ROTC instructor in Batesville-Leesville, South Carolina.

He continued to be a pillar for servicemembers and the Midlands where he became an original member and first chairman of the Richland County Sherriff Department’s Citizen’s Advisory Board. He also served as president of the Association of the U.S. Army, Fort Jackson – Palmetto Chapter and was a Hall of Fame inductee for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Anderson served 20 years as the chairman of the advisory board.

Lott said, “Command Sergeant Major Anderson, thank you for what you’ve done for the community. I salute you.”

Some of Anderson’s personal decorations and service medals include the Silver Star, Distinguished Service Medal, Bronze Star with valor, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit, Army Achievement Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal recipient of the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, as well as the Expert Infantry Badge.

“Russel Anderson was a fair-minded and dedicated Soldier, husband and father who lived by the rule that everyone must be treated equally,” Murphy said.” He will be truly missed.”

Anderson is survived by his wife of over 41 years, Mildred “Millie”, his sons Calvin and Keith, two brothers, one sister, grandchildren and a host of other relatives and friends.