WASHINGTON – A Parkton native known for his football prowess and dedication to military service was killed in Iraq Wednesday when a suicide car bomber attacked his battalion.
Lance Cpl. Norman W. Anderson III, 21, was conducting operations in Karabilah to keep insurgents from crossing the Syrian border into western Iraq when he was killed, said Lt. Barry Edwards, a spokesman for the 2nd Marine Division in Camp Lejeune, N.C., where Anderson was based.
The announcement of Anderson’s death, made by the Pentagon late Thursday, caps an especially deadly week for Maryland servicemen. On Oct. 14 three reservists with the Maryland National Guard were killed in a convoy accident in Iraq, the first state guardsmen killed in duty overseas since World War II.
Anderson, a third-generation serviceman, was remembered by family as an energetic outdoorsman whose desire to become a Marine dated back to his early childhood. His father, Norman Jr., 48, was an Army Ranger and his grandfather served with the Navy.
“He wanted to be in the military since he knew what the military was,” said his mother, Robyn Anderson, 45.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Anderson asked his mother to take him out of school so that he could enlist in the military, promising to get his GED later. She politely refused.
“I told him, ‘I’ll keep you as long as I can,'” she said.
His lifelong passion for all things military also made Anderson a self-taught history buff.
“He was drawn to the history of all the wars,” Robyn Anderson said. “He could tell you anything about Gettysburg, the Vietnam War, and World War I and II.”
Anderson married his high school sweetheart, Tori, in August. His mother said he proposed to Tori in May and wanted to marry her before he was deployed to Iraq. He also served a tour in Afghanistan, from which he returned in December 2004.
Robyn Anderson said her son was realistic about the possibility that he might not make it home once he left for Iraq.
“He said to me before he left, ‘Mom, remember this: if anything happens to me, I died doing what I loved doing,'” she said.
Anderson was a 2002 graduate of Hereford High School in Parkton, where he was a running back for the 2001 state championship team. He was one of five running backs on the team to rush for 500 yards that year, and scored a touchdown in the championship game.
His coach, Steve Turnbaugh, recalled that Anderson was so open about his intent to join the Marine Corps that he was known to teammates as “Stormin’ Norman” – the famed nickname of retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded U.S. forces during the first Gulf War.
“No one on the team knew him as Norman or Anderson,” he said.
Turnbaugh said Anderson was good enough to play college football for a Division III school, but that his desire to become a Marine had set in long before he strapped on his first helmet.
“He knew the direction he wanted to go,” he said.
The coach added that the player who was wearing Anderson’s No. 33 jersey asked to change his number for the remainder of the season. It was scheduled to be retired Friday during a ceremony preceding the school’s game against Loch Raven High School.
Anderson was survived by his parents and a sister, Brooke, 23. Funeral services are planned for Tuesday and Wednesday, and he will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. – 30 – CNS-10-21-05