Community Mourns Longmont Sailor Killed In Iraq

Christopher Anderson Was Based In Camp Lejeune

A sailor from Longmont was killed in action in Iraq, the military said Wednesday.

Hospitalman Christopher A. Anderson, 24, died Monday in Anbar Province. The Pentagon said Anderson was killed in enemy action in Western Iraq.

He was a corpsman assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, based in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Anderson was a 2000 graduate of Longmont High School and attended the University of Colorado at Boulder. He was scheduled to get out of the Navy next year.

Anderson is the second man from Longmont killed in the Iraq war.

He was a fourth-generation military man. His father was a Navy SEAL.

Anderson enlisted in the Navy about a year and a half ago. His friends said he was a dedicated sailor who loved the San Diego Padres, skiing, snowboarding and surfing.

Flags were half-staffed in Longmont Thursday indicating an entire community in mourning for the loss of the young sailor.

"Any memory has him smiling. He had such an infectious laugh," said Anderson's high school friend, Nicole Gessner-Elfman.

GessnerElfman recalled the light-hearted moments they shared.

"He used to work at Nordstrom, and so he used to get all dressed up and he would strut around like he was a model," she said laughing.

Anderson's web page on the popular site MySpace.com is filling up with comments from friends across the country. Although the hospitalman described Iraq as "hell on Earth," friends said he was always positive and was always ready to help.

"I just talked to him last week, and he was telling me about his experience and he had to do emergency surgery on somebody and he was all excited," said Elfman. "It just sounded like he was smiling."

At home, Anderson's family was not ready to comment but did release a statement which is posted below. A family friend said he was a unique kid with a heart of gold.

In Longmont, Navy personnel are counseling Anderson's family. There is no word yet on a date and time for local memorial services, but Anderson's father said his son will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the News Media,

I am honored that you have asked me, the father of Navy Seaman Christopher Anderson, to reflect on the qualities of this outstanding young man and true American patriot.

Christopher was a son of which any parent would be proud. He was a natural leader in the truest sense…warm, giving, thoughtful and caring. He went well out of his way to assist family, friends and neighbors with everything from the sweat of his brow to sound advice that many commented held wisdom beyond his years. He was consistently elevated to leadership positions by his actions.

This same thought process was at work when he chose to join the US Navy. Chris comes from generations of Navy men and women. I myself am retired Navy. The Navy is, in general, an exciting career, however Christopher was not content to settle for anything less than being at the tip of the spear. He chose the career path of Hospital Corpsman (the Navy equivalent to a Medic in the other services). He requested the additional training of a Combat Medic, and to be assigned to the front lines with the United States Marine Corps. The Marine Corps does not have their own medical personnel, and Navy Sailors fill that role on a voluntary basis.

He was an “encourager”, and “uplifter” with a truly unique ability to empower others to rise to success they themselves did not think possible. He attracted many, many close friends into his circle. These are fine young men and women, who I was proud to be introduced to and invite into my home.

In August of 2005, Christopher joined the Navy. While in Longmont awaiting his formal Navy school start date, he aggressively pursued high visibility leadership positions within his group of peers attached to the Longmont Navy Recruiting Office. Chris was already a good athlete, but chose to compete with the Navy SEAL candidates for even greater athletic excellence. He additionally excelled in his Navy-oriented academics, and was ultimately promoted from E-1 to E-3 before ever leaving for the Recruit Training Center (“Boot Camp”).

Once at Boot Camp he again excelled in academics, athletics and leadership, completing the program as the “Honor Graduate”…the number one person in his class, as voted on by both his peers and the senior staff. He then attended his actual Hospital Corpsman medical training, “A” School, followed by Advanced Combat Medical Training, “C” School. Working with experienced combat veterans, he reaffirmed his desire to provide a critical service to those in harms way. He knew full well that he too would be at the forefront of the action.

Christopher deployed to Iraq in September of this year. The moment his aircraft’s door opened to the 120 degree heat, he knew this would be the start of his greatest challenge. He loved the people of this country, however he began to see immediate action, and was soon credited by senior medical staff for saving the life of a Marine sergeant seriously wounded on patrol by an improvised explosive device (IED).

Christopher earned the affectionate title of “Doc”. This title is only given to Navy Hospital Corpsmen who have impressed their US Marine Corps counterparts with medical excellence under field combat conditions. His colonel also credited him with the compliment, “The most squared away ‘Marine’ we have in this Unit”.

Christopher gave his life in the defense of his nation, his local community, his Marine brethren and his family. Christopher wanted all his life to make a difference in this world and in his short 24 years accomplished more than most will ever accomplish in a lifetime.

Rick Anderson, father of Christopher Anderson. Released December 7, 2006

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