Tag Archives: Sandy Sanderson


80 years ago today, official caption: “CPO George Sanderson. View was taken in 1942. Sanderson held the distinction of being the oldest man in the armed forces on active duty. Joined (sloop-of-war) USS Iroquois on 7 July 1882, recalled to active duty on 15 July 1942. Born 3 January 1862.”

Original print signed: Admiral Harry E. Yarnell, best wishes, George Sanderson. Naval History and Heritage Command, Yarnell collection NH 81981

The Chief Boatswains Mate has 10 (gold) hash marks on his sleeve, denoting at least 40 years of active service.

Mustachioed Gunners Mate First Class (Gun Captain) George Sanderson in the center with his gun crew, USS Oregon (BB-3) before the battle of Santiago, 1898. LOC LC-D4-32321 det 4a16563

As described over at the US Militaria Forum:

After a life of service on Civil War Sloops of War, a Coast Survey Ship in the Arctic, Screw Gunboats, Screw Sloops of War, Protected Cruisers, the first Battleships, a prize Spanish Gunboat, Hospital Ship, Schooner Rigged Steamer, Armored Cruiser plus a fleet of Receiving ships, he wanted more sea duty. Over 40 years of service ‘Sandy’ Sanderson had rounded the world 21 times, landed Marines in Panama in the 1880s, served in the Spanish American War as a Gun Turret Captain, fought Philippine Insurrectionists, Boxer Revolutionaries, Panamanian Revolutionaries, Zulu uprisings, protected seals in the Bering Sea, and made liberties in the Hawaiian Kingdom, as Sandy put it, “when they were something – when old King Kalakaua was in charge”. Recalled during World War I, he organized and was placed in charge of a gunnery school in New York City with 542 men assigned there and retired again in 1922.

Putting on his old uniform again after Pearl Harbor, he asked for sea duty.

He asked for sea duty.

Ultimately taken back into service, though restricted to shore assignments, he was assigned to Treasure Island and Recruiting Duty,

“Sandy” became one of the Navy’s best recruiters of Sailors, Seabees and in particular, WAVES, having had experience with the first Yeomanettes during World War I when he ran the NYC Gunnery School. 80-G-359957: “CBM George “Sandy” Sanderson, 81, oldest man on active duty in the Navy was nearly swamped by WAVES when he visited Portland, Oregon, recently and appeared at the Navy Mother’s Club tea on Navy Day.”

Discharged in August 1945, he earned his 11th service stripe!

CBM (PA) George ‘Sandy’ Sanderson, USN – The oldest US Navy sailor serving in World War II. All Hands, March 1949.

Attempting to reenlist for Korea but denied, Sanderson passed the bar in 1954.