Rock Hill graduate guiding troops from Central Command in Qatar

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Ironton resident Patricia Anderson last saw her son Derek on Christmas Day.

Since then, he has left for the U.S. military's central command in Qatar.

"I'm proud of him," she said. "He's a good boy and a good son with a heart of gold. He wouldn't be there if he didn't want to be."

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William Derek Anderson, 40, is a 1982 graduate of Rock Hill High School who joined the U.S. Air Force the July after his graduation. Since then, he has been serving in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the Korean peninsula and Turkey. He is also a veteran of the first Gulf War. The member of the 4th Fighter Wing Planning and Programs Office is now a resident of Goldsboro, N.C. and has a 16-year-old daughter.

Besides serving his country, her son also enjoys playing golf and loves watching NASCAR.

"He loves his car races," she said.

In February, Derek Anderson, who instructs troops in dealing with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, was promoted to Master Sergeant.

Even though her son is at Central Command and not in an Iraqi battlefield, Patricia Anderson is still concerned for her son.

"It's really a big worry even though he's a piece from there," she said. "I just hope it's over with really soon. I hear from him occasionally, and he sends people in the family messages on the computer."

She last heard from her son Feb. 19.

"The last time everyone talked to him, he said we wouldn't hear from him for a while," Patricia Anderson continued. "They want to keep things quiet over there."

Derek Anderson was a huge fan of Tipton's Foodland and Bakery's powdered long johns, his mother said. She had hoped to send him some before the store closed, but it closed before she had the chance. She hopes to bake cookies for her son and the other military personnel in Qatar.

Seeing anti-American protests in foreign countries angers Patricia Anderson, but at the same time, she echoes sympathy for the people of Iraq.

"I don't like it," she said. "I think people should support our troops. Those people have been through … I guess hell."

Patricia Anderson showed no sympathy for Saddam Hussein.

"I'd like to call him the devil … the devil himself," she said. "I hope they've got him."

When her son returns home, Patricia Anderson plans to have a celebration.

"I'm going to give him a big hug and tell him that I love him," she said. "Probably, all of his family will be here."