William Y “Willie” Anderson, 89, of Crystal Lake died at home at 10:34 pm, May 9th, 2011. 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.
Capt. Anderson's P-51D-5-NA Mustang "Swede's Steed III". He downed three of his seven kills in this aircraft. Anderson achieved ace status when he shot down a Bf 109 near Tours, France on 1 August 1944. The eighth cross represents his downing of a V1 flying bomb on 17 June 1944, which happen to be the first destroyed by the group.
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.
Lt. Gen Lewis H. Brereton, Commanding General of the Ninth Air Force, pins the Distinguished Flying Cross on 1st Lt. Anderson, in ceremonies at ALG-2, Criqueville on the Cherbourg peninsula of France. July 1944.
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.