Doug Anderson

Doug "Andy" Anderson

2020 Salute to Veterans - Clackamas Review

Hometown: Happy Valley
Service Branch: U.S. Air Force
Years Served: 1969-2008

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BEATING THE DRAFT BY ENLISTING

After graduating from high school in Hanley Falls, Minnesota, in 1968, Doug “Andy” Anderson decided to join the military. 

The Vietnam War was raging, and Anderson thought enlisting would be a better option than waiting to be drafted.

“I joined the Air Force, and while I was at boot camp, my mother received my draft papers. I just beat the draft,” Anderson said. “My brother was already in the Air Force at the time and he spoke highly of it. Everybody was saying they were just going to do two years in the draft, but I talked to my folks about it and decided to enlist for four and see the country, rather than the two where I would only see Vietnam. I ended up there anyway, but certainly not as bad as being out in the jungle and fighting hand-to-hand.”

Hanley Falls was a small town with a population of around 200 at that time, and Anderson’s graduating class had only 14 students. Anderson spent much of his time on the family farm with no running water or indoor toilets. His brother, Donald, was stationed in Hawaii, so the idea of traveling seemed exciting to Anderson.

“My whole goal was to go out, learn a job and see the world,” he said.
After boot camp in San Antonio, Anderson qualified to be a crew chief — a maintenance position — on the Lockheed C-130 Hercules airplane, a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft used as a troop and cargo transport, for medevac and as a fuel tanker. During wartime, these tankers refueled helicopters in midair. Anderson spent one year in Little Rock, Arkansas, training on the C-130, then was deployed to England and the Virgin Islands fulfilling his desire to travel.

Before he was sent to Vietnam, he went to Florida to learn the mechanics of the North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco, a two-engine, two-person aircraft that would spot enemy fighter planes.

“We were sent to Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, thinking we were missing Vietnam. But as soon as we got to Thailand, we were told to pack our stuff — we were going into Vietnam,” Anderson said. “We flew with our own airplanes in and out of Vietnam, mostly staying in Thailand. They had numerous planes at the base and conducted rescues of soldiers in Vietnam and Laos, but of course, we weren’t in Laos during the war. We lost two pilots there, we were able to get one out, but the other was a POW. He eventually got out and lived in Hood River.”

Before he was sent to Vietnam, he went to Florida to learn the mechanics of the North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco, a two-engine, two-person aircraft that would spot enemy fighter planes.

“We were sent to Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, thinking we were missing Vietnam. But as soon as we got to Thailand, we were told to pack our stuff — we were going into Vietnam,” Anderson said. “We flew with our own airplanes in and out of Vietnam, mostly staying in Thailand. They had numerous planes at the base and conducted rescues of soldiers in Vietnam and Laos, but of course, we weren’t in Laos during the war. We lost two pilots there, we were able to get one out, but the other was a POW. He eventually got out and lived in Hood River.”

After coming home from Vietnam, Anderson returned to Little Rock, where he volunteered to be a scanner, a loadmaster job as an assistant flight engineer, where he learned in-flight systems.

During this time, Anderson didn’t do a lot of traveling, but flew often because he was in the training squadron for the C-130s.

After earning the rank of staff sergeant and finishing four years in the Air Force, Anderson “got out.” In the 11 years before he would join the Air Force Reserve, he and his wife, Barbara, welcomed two children, Tara and Adam, and opened a tavern in Portland called Darwin’s Theory.

“One day, my wife told me the Reserve base was looking for flight engineers. I interviewed with the chief engineer and he found out I owned a tavern — that was a plus,” Anderson laughed. “I was hired on the spot and went through flight engineer school in Oklahoma and again in Little Rock, Arkansas.”

As a reservist, Anderson flew with the 304th Rescue Squadron and 939th Air Refueling Wing at the Portland Air National Guard Base until he retired in 2008 as chief in-flight refueling operator or boom operator with the rank of chief master sergeant in the Air Force Reserve and over 10,000 flying hours.

Before he retired, the base removed the C-130 aircraft, and Anderson, once again, returned to flight school to learn the mechanics of the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, a larger jet than the C-130. Anderson’s group used the Stratotanker in Turkey to refuel large aircraft such as the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy and Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at 30,000 feet, an altitude the C-130s never reached.