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Chief George Sanderson, Oldest USN Sailor in WWII C.S.C. 12050

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Salvage Sailor

Aloha Everyone,


Chief Boatswains Mate George Sanderson was born on January 3rd, 1862 in York, England.  After immigrating to the United States, he enlisted in the Navy on July 7th, 1882 when he was 20 years old.  During his career, he served for 40 years on active duty with the fleet from 1882 to 1922, took a 20 year hiatus in retirement, and then reenlisted for service in World War II with the express permission of Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy.  His final enlistment was from 1942 to 1945 and if you're doing the math, he was in his eighties.  Believe it or not, he also tried to reenlist again in 1950 for duty during the Korean War but was turned down due to a heart condition.


BMC George Sanderson 004.jpg


Not sure if this is factual and backed up by documentation or just another sea story?  Well, when have you seen a Continuous Service Certificate (C.S.C.) Which contained twenty two pages of entries!


Here's the final page added in 1945 when he was discharged at Treasure Island, California


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 005 Page 20 1945 02.jpg


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 1880's, served in the Spanish American War as a Gun Turret Captain, fought Philippine Insurrectionists, Boxer Revolutionaries, Panamanian Revolutionaries, Zulu uprisers, 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.


BMC George Sanderson 003.jpg


He had enlisted as an Ordinary Seaman on rigged Sloops of War, and over the years had become an Able Seaman, Coxswain, Quartermaster, Gunners Mate and then a Chief Boatswains Mate entitled to wear ten gold service stripes.  But that wasn't enough for the Sea Dog, Chief George 'Sandy' Sanderson.


BMC George Sanderson 006.jpg


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Salvage Sailor

Before Pearl Harbor was bombed, 'Sandy' Sanderson put on his uniform bedecked with his ribbons and hash marks, and reported for duty at the Navy Recruiting office in San Francisco.  The story was front page on the Oakland Tribune, July 30th, 1941


BMC George Sanderson 002.jpg


Politely rejected for service, he was not about to take that having raised officers from green midshipmen to Admirals......he had friends in high places.


BMC George Sanderson 007.jpg


BMC George Sanderson 008.jpg


BMC George Sanderson 009.jpg


Oakland Tribune 30 July 1941 001.jpg

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Salvage Sailor

....and what'd ya know, he did have some pull with the Navy Department, and the men he had trained came to the aid of the 4'11" sea dog.


BMC George Sanderson 017 Madera Tribune 31 July 1942.jpg


He was recalled from retirement and again placed on the active list in 1942 by the express permission of Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy


BMC George Sanderson 019 Army and Navy Journal July 18 1942.jpg


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. Surrounding him are: Ensign Betty McCreary; Y3/C Marie Inzio; Ensign Elizabeth Hill; Lieutenant Junior Grade Caro Reece; Ensign Mary Montford; and Ensign Inez Cridge. Photograph received March 4, 1946. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

BMC George Sanderson 013.jpg

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Salvage Sailor

'Sandy' had done it, he was back in the Navy more than 60 years after he first walked up the gangplank of the USS IROQUOIS in 1882.




BMC George Sanderson 010.jpg

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Salvage Sailor

CBM (PA) George 'Sandy' Sanderson, USN - The oldest US Navy sailor serving in World War II

All Hands, March 1946


BMC George Sanderson 016 All Hands March 1946.jpg


After 44 years, he wanted more when the Korean Conflict broke out in 1950, so he tried yet again but it was not to be.

All Hands, 1951


BMC George Sanderson 018.jpg


Gunners Mate First Class (Gun Captain) George Sanderson in the center with his gun crew, USS OREGON (BB-3) after the battle of Santiago, 1899


BMC George Sanderson 012 USS OREGON BB-3 Gunnery Crew.jpg


Fair Winds and Following Seas Sandy


BMC George Sanderson 005.jpg


George Sanderson aboard USS OREGON in 1899

BMC George Sanderson 015 USS OREGON BB-3 Gunnery Crew.jpg

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Salvage Sailor

Just an ordinary untitled book bound in a green cloth cover?


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 001 Front Cover.jpg


No, this is a piece of American History, and in particular United States Naval History


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 002 Back Cover.jpg

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Salvage Sailor

Continuous Service Certificate (C.S.C. No. 15020) Geroge Sanderson, United States Navy.  Binding from 1921/1922




Compiled after his retirement from 40 years of active service in 1922 with 22 pages of original document entries from 1882 to 1922 and additional entries to 1945.




Note that the yeoman made an error on his birthdate, 1892 rather than 1862, not uncommon in navy records.  This probably made 'Sandy' smile, making him 30 years younger when he tried to enlist in 1941.




Examined by Asst. Surgeon Richard Ashbridge, M.C. in 1893 (subsequently court martialed later that year) and a later notation of his appointment to CBM(PA) by Lieutenant Commander Starr Taintor in 1918.


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Salvage Sailor

Most C.S.C. books you examine have only a few pages in them.  This one required two pages just to list the multiple enlistments and reenlistments.


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 004 Page 000 03.jpg


Page 2 of the enlistments and recalls


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 004 Page 000 04.jpg



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David Minton

This is so interesting, thank you for sharing. I have a similar two war CSC for a sailor that enlisted in 1908, retired after twenty or so years, and was recalled in 1942. He was only in his fifties, however, so not such a celebrated case as yours.

I collect CSC so I have to ask, since this is a 1921 series CSC, is this a replacement? If so, did they recreate all of his records, or transfer some of the original pages?

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Salvage Sailor

Continuous Service Certificate (C.S.C.) No. 12050 George Sanderson


Page 1 - 1882 to 1884, The Age of Sail, Civil War Era Sloop of War


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 006 Page 01.jpg


Page 2 - 1884 to 1885, more Sloops of War


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 007 Page 02.jpg


Page 3 - 1885 to 1887, Sloops of War


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 008 Page 03.jpg


Page 4 - 1887 to 1889 - Coast Survey Service as a Quartermaster


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 009 Page 04.jpg


Page 5 - 1889 to 1893, more service on Civil War Era Sloops of War


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 010 Page 05.jpg


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Page 6 - 1893 to 1895, YANTIC his first Screw Gunboat, Atlantic Fleet (most of the previous vessels were Pacific Fleet service)


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 011 Page 06.jpg


Page 7 - 1895 to 1896, transition to the Age of Steam.  Screw Gunboat, Screw Sloop of War, to the first of his Protected Cruisers


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 012 Page 07.jpg


Page 8 - 1896 to 1898, the Spanish American War, Plankowner and Gunners Mate on his first Battleship, USS OREGON (BB-3)


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 013 Page 08.jpg


Page 9 - 1899 to 1900,  USS OREGON in the Philippines and the captured Spanish gunboat renamed SAMAR (PG-41)


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 014 Page 09.jpg


Page 10 - 1901 to 1903, Battleships


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 015 Page 10.jpg




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Salvage Sailor

Page 11 - 1903 to 1904, Hospital Ship, Schooner Rigged Steamer


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 016 Page 11.jpg


Page 12 - 1904 to 1906, Gunners Mate


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 017 Page 12.jpg


Page 13 - 1906 to 1908, Armored Cruiser


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 018 Page 13.jpg


Page 14 - 1908 to 1910, Commendation for Rescue


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 019 Page 14.jpg


Page 15 - 1910 to 1912, Protected Cruiser


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 020 Page 15.jpg



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Salvage Sailor

Page 16 - 1912 to 1914, Naval Prison Mare Island


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 021 Page 16.jpg


Page 17 - 1914 to 1917, Recalled to Active Duty, World War I


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 022 Page 17.jpg


Page 18 - 1918 to 1920 Chief Boatswains' Mate (Permament Appointment)


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 023 Page 18.jpg


Page 19 - 1921 to 1922, Second Retirement and 1942 Recall to Active Duty WWII


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 024 Page 19.jpg


Page 20 - Discharged 1945


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 025 Page 20.jpg


Page 21 - 1944 to 1945 Discharge (3rd Retirement)


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 026 Page 21.jpg


Page 22 - Last Page of C.S.C. 12050 1945


CSC 12050 GEORGE SANDERSON 027 Page 22.jpg

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Outstanding images that record a unique CBM's (now BMC) career. Thank you!

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  • 8 months later...

Fantastic post! I can't believe a guy in his eighties was on active duty and able to keep up with guys literally ¼ his age. Thank you for posting this!

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  • 2 months later...

Just exceptional.  Great documentation and dedication to service of his adopted country.  CBM Sanderson is the definition of An Old Salt.  Thanks for introducing us to CBM Sanderson.  Gregg


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  • 11 months later...

I just saw that his 1899 Good Conduct and two bars sold on ebay today as a BIN.

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I think the medal was a pretty good deal - would have probably bought it myself if I had seen it! Here are some screenshots for posterity:





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