Capt. Clay Anderson is from Texas. His wife, Capt. Maritza Anderson, is from Chicago. They have a daughter, Hunter, who is 15 months old and was born at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune. Anderson was part of the 9/11 babies, he said, because he enlisted right after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Anderson said it was ironic that as he was explaining this, Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” was playing on the speakers. It was a song written by Jackson as a reaction to 9/11.
“We travelled the world. We’ve been to about 24 different countries ... It’s been absolutely awesome.”
What were some of your favorites?
“I’d say Jakarta, Indonesia is one of my favorite spots.”
Anderson said he wound up in Jakarta because he worked for an organization that trained agencies in counter weapons of mass destruction (WMD) operations.
“I love Jordan. We were in Jordan for a long time. We lived in Okinawa for a while. We’ve been stationed on every Marine Corps base.”
He and his wife are both 37 years old, but she has been a Marine since she was 17. Anderson himself joined later in life.
“She’ll be able to retire next year. It’s crazy.”
The Andersons attended two Sneads Ferry Shrimp Festivals in a row, and live down the road from the festivities. Anderson said he was sad that his wife could not be there with him and their daughter for number three. She was stationed abroad.
“She’ll be here next week. She barely missed it.”
What is an important event in your life?
“That’s an interesting question. The older you get, what has meaning or what you thought was important 10 years ago really doesn’t matter anymore ... The quintessential answers: the birth of my child, combat deployments, losing friends.”
“Me and my wife are obviously very institutional. It’s exciting (that she is about to retire). We always say, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ We were in the Marine Corps for so long. Do we continue with things we were good at in the Marine Corps skill-wise or do we want to embark on something else? I don’t know. Do we want to jump into another 20-year gig or do nothing? I don’t know.”
Tell me about your time in the military.
“I was in the first battalion. We did the initial invasion into Iraq … That basically set my DNA (for) who I am now in the Marine Corps. I know what right looks like and what good training is. The younger Marines who weren’t alive when 9/11 happened — not all of them, just a lot of them — (have) entitled attitudes.”
You mentioned losing friends. Did you mean losing friends in combat?
“Life in general. Whether that’s … drunk driving, drugs, suicide but yes also in combat. In the infantry world, you kind of know what you’re signing up for. I’m not saying it doesn’t take its toll or doesn’t mean anything.”
Anderson grew up in a military family.
“Generations upon generations were in the military in war time … Our society, very much so, rewards and romanticizes the military. And takes very good care of it, whether that’s incentives, housing, sustenance and food, and things like that on top of the paycheck. So I think, yeah, you’re not making a lot of money in the military, but there are plenty of benefits. And honestly me and my wife feel rich. We both started enlisted and then we both became officers. That’s actually how we met.
“We met in San Diego … We became friends and it evolved and we got married. We (have been) married about 10 years. She’s pretty amazing.
“My wife, she was born in Mexico and came over when she about 6 years old. (She) grew up in Chicago. She was raised by Mexican immigrants who had an amazing work ethic. Both her, her sister and her brother went into the Marine Corps within three months of each other. (For) her parents — that’s an incredible sacrifice.
“My dad was a Marine. His dad was in the Army. My mom’s dad was in the Air Force. Several women in our family were also in the military. And then my brother’s a Marine as well — he’s a Marine pilot. It’s not obligated service. We just see a benefit, whether that’s your starting stepping stone or continuing as a career.”
After high school, Anderson was in an officer training program at California State University San Marcos.
“But then 9/11 happened. I thought I was going to miss the fight so I enlisted.”
He then went back to finish his degree. His wife graduated from University of Illinois in Chicago. In summary:
“A Texas boy who loves Texas. A Chicago girl who absolutely loves Chicago. And we have Hunter, who was born in Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital.”
Reporter Maxim Tamarov can be reached at 910-219-8439 or firstname.lastname@example.org