Anderson Buchanan Wilson
T/4 in 23rd Headquarters Co
Military occupational specialty: 405 (clerk-typist)
Born 1923 in MS, Died 2020
County of residence at enlistment: Hinds County, MS
Other residence(s): Tchula, MS; Jackson, MS; Greenwood, MS; Shreveport, LA; lived in Slidell, LA in 2019
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: clerks, general office
College education after the war: Jackson Commercial College
Anderson Wilson was born on March 31, 1923 in Washington, MS. He was the youngest of three children; his mother died when he was only three, and he was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Tchula, MS. His father died a few months before he graduated from Tchula High School in 1941.
He registered for the draft on June 30, 1942. At the time, he was living in Jackson, MS and working as a clerk in the Flight Surgeon's Office at Jackson Air Base.
He enlisted on September 24, 1942, and did anti-aircraft training in the coast artillery at Camp Wallace in Texas. He remained there for a little over a year, continuing to train new recruits after he completed his own training. When the base was transferred to the Coast Guard, he was transferred to Camp Forrest, TN. In a 2011 interview, he describes spending a couple of weeks not doing anything but laying around with other soldiers on their bunks, going to meals, and "going to town" in Chattanooga. He thought to himself that something must be wrong--"the Army doesn't just let you lay around!" One day, he and his fellow soldiers were lying on their bunks when the door "slammed open", and Colonel Harry Reeder walked in. He told the men that he was there to form a unit that would be part of the invasion of Europe, and that if anyone weren't interested in being part of that, they should speak up. Anderson reported that "we did some looking around at each other, but I'm proud to say no one opted out. We had 50 men that formed the Headquarters Company of the 23rd Special Troops." It is likely that he was part of an advance unit of 12 men that landed on Omaha Beach in the afternoon on D-Day. (The rest of the Ghost Army followed a couple of weeks later.) He served in Europe as a clerk-typist with the unit.
After the war he returned to Mississippi, and joined the VFW and the American Legion. But he gave up these memberships within the first year, because all the other soldiers wanted to talk about was their wartime experiences, and he couldn't talk about his!
He attended Jackson Commercial College, and studied accounting through the International Business School of Correspondence.
In 1946 he met Marion P. Cowan on a blind date, and married her. They lived in Greenwood, MS for the next 34 years, and raised two children there: Susan and Joseph.
Anderson worked for Henderson & Baird Hardware in Greenwood, starting as an accountant and working his way up to Executive VP and Corporate Secretary. He was later hired by South States, Inc. as Vice-Chairman, and worked there until 1987 when he retired due to health reasons. He and his wife had moved to Shreveport, LA for his work and in retirement they moved to Slidell, LA to be closer to their family. He then worked part-time as Secretary/Treasurer for 12 years for Wilson and Long (formerly Forstall and Vickery) in Metairie and Slidell.
He was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Lumberton, MS during his Mississippi years. After the Ghost Army story could be talked about, he rejoined the American Legion and the VFW. He was also a member of the Kiwanis Club and the Optimist Club.
He died on June 27, 2020, in Slidell, LA, and is buried at Lumberton City Cemetery in Lumberton, MS.
Photo in uniform
1942 draft card
1942 enlistment record
2011 Interview with Veterans History Project
2017 TV interview
2019 "Right at Home" website re his Ghost Army service