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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Roger Neal Anderson Sr., Major, USAF (Retired)
May 26, 1931 – June 21, 2021
Maj. Roger Neal Anderson Sr. (USAF-Retired) made his “last flight west” on Monday, June 21, 2021.
The son of the late Charlie Neal Anderson and Mabel Jennie Wallis of Searcy, Roger was pre-deceased by his wife of 67 years, Virginia Gayle Smith Anderson, and his son-in-law, Stephen Wilson Carriker of Locust, N.C.
He is survived by his daughter, Lynn Gayle Anderson Carriker of Locust, N.C.; his son, Roger Neal “Andy” Anderson Jr. (Lori) of San Marcos, Texas; and his son, Lee Sanford Anderson (Nicole) of Goose Creek, S.C.
Roger is also survived by his grandchildren, Allison Anderson Vandenberg (Matthew) of Austin, Texas, Jeremy Brett Anderson (Holly) of Derby, Kan., Jason Kyle Anderson (Kimberley) of Mulvane, Kan., Trevor Blake Anderson (Ashley) of Fort Worth, Texas, Trentin Joseph Anderson of Memphis, Tenn., and Sydney Love Anderson of Provo, Utah. In addition, Roger had six great-grandchildren.
His willingness to stand up for others was a key ingredient of his personality and was just one reason Roger was elected Student Body president of Searcy High School’s Class of 1949.
After a brief stint at the University of Arkansas, Roger “made the best decision of his life” to enlist in the United States Air Force, where he was trained as a Control Tower Operator.
Making the jump from “Buck Sergeant” to Aviation Cadet, Roger earned his Officer’s Commission and USAF Pilot wings in 1954.
During his career, Maj. Anderson flew 13 different models of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, accumulating more than 3,200 hours of flight time.
Additionally, Maj. Anderson’s military honors include the Bronze Star and Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters.
His duty stations included assignments in Nebraska, Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Japan, Michigan, Da Nang, Vietnam (1965-1966), California and Georgia.
Following his 20-year career in the Air Force, now-retired Maj. Anderson embarked on a second career at Belton-Honea Path High School in South Carolina as an instructor with Air Force Junior ROTC Unit SC-072 for 23 years.
This was where “The Major” found his true calling as an educator. As the unit’s motto proclaimed, Maj. Anderson and his fellow instructors were “Building Better Citizens.”
His “indomitable will” allowed him to prevail over lifelong dyslexia to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Georgia College and a master’s degree in Education from Clemson University.
Educating thousands of cadets for more than two decades, he made a true difference teaching a little bit of everything in his classes: basic hygiene principles; concepts of honor, integrity and character; military bearing; esprit de corps; and ultimately, how cadets conducted themselves during overnight field trips while representing their parents, school and community.
During his tenure at B-HP, Maj. Anderson was named “Outstanding Instructor by HQ AFJROTC” five times. Additionally, SC-072 was designated a “Meritorious Unit” five times and “Honor Unit” 16 times, a total of 21 awards in 23 years!
Most gratifying to Maj. Anderson were his former cadets who counted him as a significant role model during their formative years, routinely staying in contact with him as they worked hard, enjoyed success and raised strong families.
Roger also enjoyed serving the Lord in both the Episcopalian and Anglican Churches in numerous volunteer capacities. A man of great faith, one of his favorite expressions in his final months was: “God is great!”
A burial service for Maj. Anderson will be conducted with Military Honors at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 4, 2021. He will be laid to rest next to his parents in the Anderson family plot at Oak Grove Cemetery in Searcy.
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Published in The Daily Citizen on Jul. 2, 2021.
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