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1st Black Marine Medal of Honor recipient could have CA post office renamed in his honor

Navy/Marine/Coast Guard Medal of Honor (US DOD)
February 24, 2021

A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives last week could rename a Compton, Calif. post office for the first black Marine to receive the Medal of Honor.

Pfc. James Anderson, Jr., who received the military’s highest honor after he died in action in the Vietnam War, is the focus of new federal legislation seeking to rename a Compton federal building. The bill was reintroduced on Feb. 18 by Rep. Nanette Barragan.

When Anderson was just 20 years old, an enemy grenade landed near him and his fellow Marines as they fought against an ambush by North Vietnamese forces. Without any hesitation, Anderson dove on the grenade, absorbing the majority of the blast with his body and saving his brothers in arms.

Anderson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1968, becoming the first Black Marine to receive the top honor.

Barragan re-introduced legislation 54 years after Anderson’s death calling to rename a Compton post office after the war hero.  

“Private First Class James Anderson, Jr. was a son of Compton, a patriot, and a hero in the purest sense of the word. The bravery of this 20-year old was beyond any rational expectation for someone so young, and his family, friends, and fellow soldiers still feel the impacts of that sacrifice to this day,” said Rep. Barragán in a statement. “It was my honor to introduce legislation to rename a post office in our community in honor of his courage and sacrifice.”

“PFC Anderson made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. Renaming the post office in Compton in his honor would recognize his duty and sacrifice and preserve that legacy right here in our community where he grew up,” Barragán continued.

The push to rename the post office was sparked by a Marine veteran who told Compton City Councilwoman Emma Sharif that Anderson’s headstone needed a replacement.

“I finally reached out to the congresswoman’s office and started talking to her about it,” said Sharif, as ABC7 News reported.

Aggiethene Anderson, his mother, has received hundreds of letters from across the United States. While some had no delivery address, they managed to reach her with just the words: “Mother of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Compton CA.”

According to ABC7, those letters likely passed through the post office that could be renamed in his honor.