RETURNED COMBAT VETERAN AWARDED KEY TO CITY IN THANKS SPEAKS OF POLICING IRAQIS, DEDICATION OF U.S. SOLDIERS.
LANCASTER - An Army colonel who recently returned from Iraq after leading dozens of combat missions was given the key to the city by Lancaster officials.
Col. Joseph Anderson, in charge of the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, and his wife, Beth, were presented the oversize key at Lancaster City Hall, where Beth was also recognized for her work with soldiers' families.
``It's an honor to me personally,'' Anderson said as he held the plaque- mounted key. ``This will certainly be an honor for the soldiers who served with me. I certainly couldn't have done this without them. It's so important that those guys know that what they are doing is right. It's cities like this that show them that. The support is so important.''
The plaque will be sent to Fort Campbell, Ky., home of the 101st Airborne, and hung in headquarters.
Anderson and his wife, both New York natives, were greeted at City Hall by City Council members and dozens of veterans.
``I generally never miss an opportunity to thank our men and women in uniform,'' said Lancaster businessman Frank Visco, who organized the event. ``It's the veteran that has given us our freedoms.''
Anderson talked briefly about operations he and his men undertook. He said fighting the war was less difficult than keeping the peace while trying to teach the Iraqi people how to police themselves, establishing schools and restoring utilities.
Beth Anderson has helped hundreds of soldiers' families with everything from arranging leave for emergencies to setting up funerals and helping financially struggling families.
Greg Botonis, (661) 267-7802
(color) Lancaster Mayor Frank Roberts, left, gives the key to the city to U.S. Army Col. Joseph Anderson as Vice Mayor Henry Hearns and Anderson's wife, Beth, stand by.
Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer