Gary Anderson was born on July 28, 1942, in Kane, Pennsylvania. He entered Naval Pre-Flight Training on July 31, 1963, and was commissioned an Ensign and designated a Naval Flight Officer on May 22, 1964. After completing Replacement Air Group training, Anderson served as an F-4 Phantom II Radar Intercept Officer with VF-33 before joining VF-114 and deploying to Southeast Asia in October 1966. He and his pilot were credited with destroying a MiG-17 over North Vietnam on April 24, 1967, while flying off of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63). LTJG Anderson was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War when his aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile on May 19, 1967. After spending 2,117 days in captivity, LCDR Anderson was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries and then entered flight training at NAS Pensacola, Florida, in October 1973. Anderson was designated a Naval Aviator in May 1975, and then joined the F-14 Tomcat Replacement Air Group, VF-124, at NAS Miramar, California, but was killed during a training flight on June 21, 1976.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as a naval flight officer of a jet aircraft in Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED FOURTEEN, embarked in USS KITTY HAWK (CVA-63) during an air strike against Kep Airfield in North Vietnam on 24 April 1967. As an integral member of the F-4 combat crew in the Target Combat Air Control Element during an air wing coordinated strike, Lieutenant Commander (then Lieutenant Junior Grade) Anderson engaged approximately seven MIG 17 aircraft threatening the retiring strike group in extremely low altitude aerial combat. In spite of the numerically superior enemy aircraft, he provided invaluable lookout assistance on enemy aircraft disposition and maneuvers which enabled his pilot to evade hard-pressed attacks and enemy air-to-air missiles. Lieutenant Commander Anderson was instrumental in shooting down one MIG 17. His skill, courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.