Major Charles Anderson graduates from prestigious Command General Staff College
VINTON–In June, Major Charles Anderson graduated from the prestigious Command General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Anderson grew up in Vinton and graduated from William Byrd High School in 1990. He is the son of Fred Anderson, who served for many years as Treasurer of Roanoke County. His mother, Ann Anderson, is well-known in Vinton as a public school teacher in all of the Vinton elementary schools, retiring from W.E.Cundiff Elementary.
The Command General Staff College, established in 1881, provides Intermediate Level Education (ILE) for United States Army and sister service officers, interagency representatives, and international military officers. ILE is a ten-month graduate-level program, which includes instruction on leadership philosophy, military history, and the military planning and decision-making processes.
CGSC is referred to as the school which teaches Army majors, because you must have the rank of major to attend. Notable alumni of the college include Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Douglas MacArthur, George Marshall, George Patton, David Petraus, and Colin Powell.
ILE students are usually mid-career field-grade officers preparing for battalion command or staff positions at the division, brigade, or battalion level.
Major Anderson graduated from Emory and Henry College in 1994 with a double major in physics and math. His parents had wanted him to attend VMI, but he did not share their enthusiasm.
“Ironically his rationale was that it would be too much of a structured life,” said Fred Anderson.
Major Anderson is married to Dr. Karen Sigmon Anderson, who he met at Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church at choir practice while they were still in high school. They have two sons, ages 7 and 12.
He is currently stationed at Fort Leavenworth, awaiting orders for his next assignment. His wife, who has her doctorate in education, is planning to teach in the fall.
Anderson’s military career began in 1994 when he joined the Virginia National Guard. He wanted to serve his country in a significant way, not just pay lip service to patriotism. The following year he joined the United States Army Reserves.
Serving in the armed forces is a family tradition. Anderson comes from a military background which dates back to the American Revolution, with a fifth great grandfather who served at Valley Forge, an ancestor who fought in the War of 1812, and several who served in the Civil War. His grandfathers served in World War II, one in the Army in Europe; one in the Navy in the Pacific.
Anderson was accepted to Army Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning in 1997 and was then commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant assigned to Fort Campbell, where he served as Platoon Leader until December of 2000.
Wanting to put down roots when his first son was born in 2000, Anderson resigned his commission and went to work for Newell-Rubbermaid, the plastics-maker, as a production supervisor in Maryville, Tennessee, while still remaining in the Army Reserves.
In the ensuing years, he completed two tours of duty in Iraq, the first involving combat duties and the second encompassing responsibility for engineering projects throughout the Iraqi Theatre of Operations.
He also served as Company Commander for Army engineering projects in Panama, Guatemala, and Nicaragua in New Horizons projects designed to enhance diplomatic relations with other nations.
From 2006 until 2008 he was in private business as the owner of Old Army Concrete in Johnson City, Tennessee.
In October of 2009, he was again deployed to Iraq, this time as a Liaison Officer to the Iraqi Army, embedded with the Iraqi troops to train their soldiers to function on their own by increasing their war fighting and engineering capabilities.
Stateside again, Anderson became the Senior Military Science Instructor for the ROTC at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee, and used his time there to also complete the requirements for his MBA degree.
In 2011, he was selected as one of seven Army Reservists for the Command General Staff College in a class of 1050 students.
In his 18 years in the military, Major Anderson has accumulated a lengthy list of medals, ribbons, and badges in recognition of his service to the United States, including the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation and Achievement Medals, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service Medals created by Executive Order by President George W. Bush for those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He has been recognized for his motivational leadership and project management skills throughout his military career. Through the years, he has developed and improved systems, techniques, and procedures that saved time and money in the military and in the businesses he was involved with.
Even in high school, Anderson was an individual who thought outside the box to get things done. His father recalls a time when his son thought that the dress code at the high school was unfair in that boys were not allowed to wear shorts to school.
“So he wore a skirt to school, because there was nothing mentioned in the dress code about boys and skirts,” said Fred Anderson. “He was sent home; but the next year the school changed the dress code so that boys were allowed to wear shorts.”