Anderson Owen Hubbard

NO. 17836  •  28 September, 1924 – 23 October 1952

Died October 23, 1952 in an aircraft accident near Pargnan, France. Aged 28 Years.


It was three years ago today, Son, that you ushered me into the Cadet Chapel at West Point to hear your class sermon. How happy and thrilled we were. That was a beautiful June day -  ­the flrst Sunday in June 1950 ‑ not a cloud in the sky.

Today is another beautiful June day, and I go back in memory, to three years ago today, and of the past twenty‑eight years. God let you come into our lives twenty eight years ago, September 28th, 1924. It is sweet to remember you when you were a baby. Such a beautiful, attractive and lovable baby. You always drew attention with your winsome ways ‑ friendly, cheerful and always smiling. As you grew into boyhood and manhood you grew in favor with both your family and friends. You acquired and developed those qualities which constitute a fine Christian gentleman ‑ friendliness, thoughtfulness, consideration, unselfishness, patience, sympathy, courtesy and respect. You were a lovable and devoted son and brother, and a true friend. If it was family or friend that needed your help you always gave your best. When your advice or opinion was sought your counsel was a result of consideration and deep thinking.

How proud we were when, at the age of fourteen, you won the contest of the Pittsylvania County F. F. A. Judging Contest. A Sophomore, you made the highest individual score, competing with fifty‑three boys from the Agricultare Departments of Pittsylvania County. You scored 804 points out of 900. You graduated from Renan High at the tender age of sixteen and entered college at V. P. I. in Blacksburg, Virginia, at sixteen years of age. So young to leave home and enter college. You made good during the two years you were there. On March 23, 1944 you were drafted into the Army. The grief that came with your departure! You were nineteen, only a boy, so young to be in the Army. You were sent to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin for training, so far away!

It was while at Camp McCoy that you wrote us one of the lieutenants there told you that you belonged at West Point and to get your parents to get you an appointment to the Military Academy. You asked what we thought, and said if you could get an appointment you would do your best to make good of the opportunity. We did think well of it and took the proper steps to get you appointed to West Point by our Congressman, the Honorable Thomas G. Burch. This was in August 1944. In September 1944 you came home on a furlough. On November 22, 1944 you sailed on a crowded ship to France. There you were in General Patton's Army and learned what real war is, what life for a fighting man on the front line is, and what is meant by "Living Hell". Eating frozen "K" rations, sleeping in snow and mud, buddies falling by your side, and weeks without getting letters from home  ‑ Oh! that horror!

It was on January 10, 1945 that we received a letter from Congressman Burch saying: I  take great pleasure in advising that I have nominated your son Anderson Owen Hubbard as principal candidate for the United States Military Academy. The War Department informs me instructions were issued directing that Pfc. Hubbard be given a physical examination. It he is found to be physically qualified for admission to West Point, his return to the United States to undergo special preparatory training will be authorized and a letter of appointment will be issued to him."

At that time you were overseas ‑ hurried to and fro with hundreds of other privates by General George Patton. You were up in the front line in combat when you received orders to report to headquarters one day in March 1945. You were given the physical examination and returned by plane to the United States. You were sent to Cornell University during the last of March, where you had strenuous training, both mental and physical, for three months. On July 3, 1945 we received another letter from Congressman Burch saying: "I am pleased to advise that the War Department has notified me that your son Anderson Owen Hubbard, my principal candidate for appointment to the United States Military Academy, qualified in the examinations and is being admitted to the Academy today, July 2, 1945."

The same day we received a letter from Brigadier General George Honnen, Commandant of Cadets at West Point, dated July 2, 1945, saying: "Your son has reported for duty as a cadet at the United States Military Academy, West Point, N. Y. You and he are to be congratulated on his having met the basic qualifications for entrance. As you no doubt know, this Institution was established by the United States government to train young men for a career as officers in the Military Services."

It was on July 2, 1945 that you became a cadet of West Point. How happy and how proud we were of you!

In October 1945 you received an injury while playing football and spent months in the hospital. On March 1, 1946 you were sent to Florida for two months, on a sick leave. In May, on Mother's Day, you came home to stay until August 25. How we enjoyed having you home where we could help you regain your health and strength and how I  enjoyed preparing your favorite foods for you! Then, when you returned to West Point in August, you passed the physical examination.

At the United States Military Academy you were known as "Andy".

How happy we were to meet you in Philadelphia at the Army and Navy football games ‑ Army always winning!  What joyous times for three years! Then in October 1949 we visited you at West Point. You were a member of the Regimental Staff. You were the first man on the Plain when there was a parade. You were an usher in the Cadet Chapel. How I longed for, and dreamed of the day when you would usher me into a seat in that Chapel to hear your baccalaureate sermon! That dream came true at 11 A.M. on June 4, 1950 ‑ the first Sunday in June three years ago today. How proud, thrilled and thankful I was! I felt God had answered my prayers, and I gave thanks to Him in that Chapel. On Tuesday morning, June 6, 1950, we saw you receive your diploma. Again I said a prayer of thanks to God and asked Him to protect and guide you in the future. The thrill of those days at the Academy in June Week 1950!

After a tour of Europe in June and a visit home you went to Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo, Texas, for Flight Training. You were given a choice of branch of the Service and had chosen the Air Force before leaving West Point. You loved flying. At Reese Air Force Base, Lubbock, Texas, on August 4, 1951 you got your wings. Then you were sent to Langley Field, Virginia, and in November 1951 you were sent to France. In March 1952 you volunteered for a mission to Korea. While there you flew 22 missions. In July 1952  you returned to France via the United States and had a leave to stop a few days with your family and friends. You visited with many. O, my son! ‑ too soon you had to return to France.

At nightfall on October 24, 1952 I was handed a telegram from Washington, D. C. which read: "It is with deep regret that I inform you of the death of your son, 1st Lieutenant Anderson O. Hubbard. He died In France on October 23, 1952 as the result of injuries received in an aircraft accident. A letter containing details will be forwarded to you at the earliest possible date. You will be furnished information concerning the return of his remains to this country. Please accept my sincere sympathy in this hour of grief.”  Signed,  Major John H. McCormick, Director of Military Personnel.

We were shocked and stunned by that message. Why, O why did it have to be! The sorrow and grief have been so hard to bear.

Then came a letter from your Commanding Officer, Col. William L. Kennedy, at the United States Air Force Base in France, which read: "As a member of this wing your son was well liked by all his associates. He was an excellent officer and a very capable pilot, always performing the tasks assigned to him in a cheerful and efficient manner, thereby winning the commendation of his immediate superiors and the respect and affection of his comrades. His death comes as a real shock to all who knew him and his loss will be keenly felt by this organization."

A letter written October 28, 1952 by Donald J. Smith, Major, United States Air Force, Commanding, "In all respects your son lived up to the standards and traditions of the Air Force. His likeable personality was compounded with intelligence, common sense, and outstanding ability as an aviator. The casualty which cost us the life of such a fine gentleman occurred in an instant. Andy had been flying with a formation of five other aircraft. They had completed the first phase of their mission and engaged in single file flying maneuvers with Andy in the lead. His plane was observed completing a turn and descending rapidly into the ground. No fire resulted. All available rescue equipment was immediately dispatched. However, upon arrival it was realized that they were never really needed. The pain of loss can be alleviated somewhat by the knowledge that death came fast and clean and that before death, life had been in keeping with the highest ideals of the Armed Forces and the Nation we serve.

Memorial services were held here on the base by Chaplain Frank M. Arnold. You would have been pleased by the wonderful tribute he paid your son. The entire squadron was present, in addition to many of his friends of the other organizations throughout the wing. A flyover of his fellow pilots concluded the services as both the American and French flags were lowered at retreat."

Then came a letter from the Chaplain, Lt. Col. Frank M. Arnold. He told of the French workers on the base who contributed flowers - ­2 large, lovely wreaths which were used in the service ‑ and sent money contributed by them for flowers for your grave. How touched we were by such an expression of admiration.

Then Capt. Robert C. Young, your flight commander, who had charge of the flight on the day of the accident, and who therefore was a witness, wrote: "There is so much that could be said, but still can be said in the few words ‑ 'He was loved and respected by all those who knew him'."

Lt. Louis Branch, from Texas, wrote: "I got to know Andy quite well while he was in training at Reese Air Force Base, Lubbock, and found him to be one of the finest fellows I've ever known."

A letter from Lt. Charles W. Hammond in Guam‑"I was Andy's roommate at West Point for two years. During that time we became very fast friends and close. During the six years I knew Andy we never had a quarrel or serious argument. You have lost your son and I have lost my friend. None of us will soon forget him."

Another letter, signed by Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Chief of Staff, United States Air Force, said: "Lieutenant Hubbard's military record was excellent. He was held in esteem by all who knew him for his loyalty and attention to duty. His fine qualities were disclosed by his conscientiousness, willingness to assume responsibility, and his consideration for others. His many friends are saddened by his death."

There were many, many more letters, coming from many countries and nearly every state in the United States. They were a help, and we do appreciate them. We are very grateful for their expressions of sympathy and condolence.

The remains arrived on November 21, 1952. Funeral services were held in your church at Riceville, Virginia, on November 22, 1952, and burial followed in the family lot in the cemetery at Gretna, Virginia, with full military honors.

Then came your medals of achievement, merit and honor. There are fourteen in all ‑ decorations and awards earned by you ‑ the Korean Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, and others.

You carried the "torch" and held it high. It was always my prayer that wherever you went, whatever you did, your influence would be good and that others might see "Jesus in you." Ah memory!, how sweet" and yet how cruel!

Your Mother, Christine McCormick Hubbard