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My Back Pages: BG Wilhelm Arthur Andersen

July 30, 2014

This is the second of a series of articles by contributing editor Stephen Lum entitled My Back Pages. Steve retired from the Hawai‘i Army National Guard and continues to work in the State Department of Defense’s public affairs office. His had worked on annual reports, the pūpūkahi and other documents over the years. His research produced in depth articles about the Hawai‘i National Guard and Guard members.

Brigadier General Wilhelm Arthur Andersen

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Hana, Maui-born, Wilhelm A. Andersen, joined the National Guard of Hawaii prior to World War I. After graduating from Officers’ Training Camp held at Schofield Barracks in November 26, 1917, the newly commissioned first lieutenant was assigned to the 2nd Infantry. He was called into federal service in December 1917 and reported to Fort Shafter.

Eight months later, he left for more officers training at Camp Fremont, California. The 10-person class of former Hawai‘i Guard officers included Major Samuel I. Johnson, the former brigadier general and Hawai‘i adjutant general, who had to resign his rank and drop from brigadier general to major. National Guard ranks did not always translate directly to active duty mobilized ranks. Andersen was honorably discharged after the war at Schofield Barracks.

In 1923, the demobilized Hawai‘i Guard was reorganized: Oahu’s 1st Infantry became the 298th Infantry Regiment, while the neighbor island’s 2nd Infantry became the 299th Infantry Regiment. In 1925, Major Andersen became a lieutenant colonel and 1st Battalion, 298th Infantry commander. Also in 1925, the legislature approved the designation changing the National Guard of Hawaii to the Hawai‘i National Guard.

Nineteen twenty-nine brought Andersen his full-bird eagles (colonel) and command of the 298th Infantry. The following year he received his 10-year Hawai‘i National Guard Service Medal and he attended advance field and staff officer school at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Colonel Andersen becomes the assistant adjutant general in addition to 298th commander, in 1934. He and the Hawai‘i National Guard were federalized October 15, 1940, prior to the United States “joining” World War II. The 298th Infantry became the active duty 22nd Infantry Brigade, Hawaiian Division, at Schofield.

In 1942, he is nominated and promoted to brigadier general by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The general concluded his military service shortly after the war in 1945. Colonel Robert L. Stevenson replaced Andersen as commander of the 298th in 1946.

In civilian life he worked at Theo. H. Davis and Co. Ltd., and later at the Bank of Hawai‘i.

From → History

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