Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.
Sergeant First Class Webster Anderson served in the Army in Vietnam. He lost two legs and an arm defending his position near Tam Ky, but his resilience and bravery encouraged his men, led to victory, and earned him the Medal of Honor.
Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.
Webster Anderson was born in Winnsboro, South Carolina in 1933. He enlisted in the US Army at 20 years old, and served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
During the Vietnam War, then S/Sgt. Anderson served as Chief of Section in Battery A of the 101st division. His main responsibility was to direct artillery fire, calculate trajectories, and relay to howitzer crews their angle of fire.
In the very early morning of October 15, 1967, Anderson and Battery A were attacked by the North Vietnamese Army at their defensive position near Tam Ky (Tom Key). They took heavy mortar, rpg, and automatic weapons fire, and their defensive perimeter was quickly breached. With total disregard for his own safety, Anderson mounted the barricade that protected and camouflaged the howitzer and his men. He fired his rifle and threw grenades at the assaulting enemy while continuing to direct howitzer fire until two enemy grenades landed at his feet. They exploded, knocking him down and severely wounding him. But Anderson didn’t give up. Despite the excruciating pain, he propped himself on the barricade, continued to direct fire on the approaching enemy, and encouraged his men to fight on. Then, a third grenade landed at their position, near another wounded soldier. Anderson grabbed the grenade and threw it back at the enemy, but it detonated right after it left his hand, severely wounding his arm. Only partially conscious due to his grievous wounds, Anderson refused medevac and continued to encourage his men. Emboldened by their commander’s resilience, Battery A went on to successfully fend off the NVA attack.
Anderson miraculously survived the battle, but the doctors weren’t able to save his arm or either of his legs. After a year-long recovery, he was sent home from the hospital and medically discharged.
Two years after his battle near Tam Ky, Anderson was awarded the Medal of Honor for his leadership and heroism while standing on two prosthetic legs. He passed away in 2003 at 70 years old.
The Medal of Honor podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Nathan Corson is our executive producer and mixing engineer, Declan Rohrs is our associate producer, scriptwriter, and recording engineer, and I’m Ken Harbaugh.
We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, go to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.