William Willie Y Anderson

June 28, 1921May 9, 2011

A Country well-served … a Life well-lived

William Y “Willie” Anderson, 89, of Crystal Lake died at home. He was born June 28, 1921 in Kromfors, Sweden to Helmer and Esther (Anderson) Anderson. In 1922, his family passed through Ellis Island and settled in Chicago. On November 26, 1944, he married Lois Anderson. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1941 and became a highly decorated veteran of World War II, receiving over 30 medals including the Silver Star and the French Croix de Guerre. General Eisenhower personally pinned on his Silver Star. He flew a P-51 “Mustang” he named “Swede’s Steed” on 126 combat missions. He was a triple Ace, and Sweden’s only fighter Ace. He made front page headlines in the Chicago Tribune on June 20th, 1944 when he shot down a German V-1 rocket which he named the “Buzz Bomb”. He was the first to ever to do so. During the war he was known as quite a dare-devil----including flying THROUGH the Eiffel Tower in Paris. He returned to the States and instructed cadets at the West Point Military Academy. Many articles and books have been written about him, and he still receives requests for autographed pictures. He is featured prominently in the Aviation Hall of Fame, the Fighter Aces Hall of Fame, and Who’s Who in Aviation History. After the war he took his flying skills to United Air Lines. He retired in 1981 as a Boeing-747 Captain. He was very popular with his fellow pilots, and would never hesitate to give them a flying lesson. His famous sense of humor entertained passengers and crews for 36 years. His wife Lois frequently accompanied him on his trips; the Honolulu layovers were a special treat for her. As a father and husband, he was without equal. He adored his wife and pampered her for 66 years. She has nursed him with superhuman care for the last four years. His children and grandchildren took their every problem to “Poppy”. He could fix anything, do anything and knew everything. He was the indestructible rock at the center of his family. His brilliance and love have shaped four generations. He was also generous to others with his time. He served as Commander of the Crystal Lake V.F.W. and he was a member of the Tebala Shrine in Rockford. He gave many hours of his time and continuous financial support to the Shriner’s hospital for crippled and burned children. He was a friend of the late Chancellor of Germany, Conrad Adenauer, worked with F. Lee Bailey, joked with Bob Hope, and sponsored Buzz Aldrin into the Aviation Hall of Fame. He is survived by his wonderful wife and the two daughters he spoiled: Nancy (Paul) Lerner and Gina (Durant) Carpenter. Also, a son William Anderson, Jr. Six grandchildren: Duffy Godshall, Chad (Stacey) Emigholz, Teresa Turck, Shiloh (Gery) Lee, Rhain Carpenter, and Graham Lerner. Two great-grandsons, Colton Turck and Kaytum Lee. Services will be private. “Willie Y”, as he was called during his WWII flying days, was highly regarded throughout United Air Lines both for his skill as a pilot as well as his wit. At his retirement dinner in 1981 he closed his remarks by famously saying: “…and may the wind at your back always be your own”. God speed, Willie.


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William Willie Y Anderson

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Bruce Peck

May 13, 2011

Memories of Willie, if you listened to my father Manny Peck, would fill several volumes. Unfortunatly my father passed away a few years ago and took most of the stories with him. My personal thoughts about Willie are short for I only met the man on a few occasions. One afternoon while trapped in Scotsdale Arizona with little to do but rent a car and see the sights. I wound up at the Champlain fighter aces museum at Falcon field. Wondering through and admiring the aircraft and the photos on the walls I saw a fimiliar face, in fact several faces I knew. Being a student of Aircraft, aviation books and people of the 2nd world war I was plesantly supprised to see Willie's photo on the wall. I kind of filled it and some time later I was at willie's house for what I cant remember but I mentioned my visit to the museum. I told him I didn't know that he was an ace and Willie said, "you never asked".
You know time doth make monks out of all of us, but to thoes who knew willie know he is one of our true heros, not just military.