When David and Judith’s son was born, the doctor was so amazed by the baby’s strength, he said the baby deserved a strong name. Dave and Judith decided to call him Marc Anthony, after the Roman politician and general.
By high school, their bouncing baby boy was indeed strong , at 6’3” and weighing 250 pounds.
''Physically, Marc was like an N.F.L. lineman,'' said Jim Polen, Marc’s former track coach, adding that despite his size, he could run the 40-yard dash in less than five seconds.
But Marc had brains as well as brawn.
''He had the quick humor of a talk show host,'' Polen said, searching for words to describe what made Marc Anderson so special. ''He was as bright as a college professor. But he had the spirit of a little boy.''
Marc Anderson was born in 1972 in Fort Benning, Ga., where his father was a drill sergeant. When Sergeant Anderson retired from the Army in 1978, he took a sales job and settled his wife and three sons in Alliance, Ohio.
Marc exceled in athletics. In high school he lettered on the varsity football team as a sophomore and despite his weight could dunk a basketball.
But his real passion was throwing the 12-pound shot and he ultimately placed third in Ohio’s statewide high school shot-up championships. His Alliance High School record throw of 59 feet 11 3/4 inches is still unchallenged.
After high school, Marc attended Case Western University in Cleveland for two years, before transferring to Florida State University. At FSU, he continued to throw the shot and was honored as the university's top male athlete in 1995, the year he graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
At Florida State, he switched from engineering to study math education. His father tried to talk him out of it, explaining that math teachers earn far less than engineers.
But Marc was undeterred, telling him, ''Dad, I can do more good as a teacher.”'
After graduation, he taught seventh and eighth grade math at the Fort Myers Middle Academy, but it was a struggle. Like his dad said, his salary was low, and he still needed to pay off $45,000 in student loans.
In his third year of teaching, an Army recruiter told him if he enlisted, the military would pay off his college loans. That sealed the deal.
In 1998, he entered the Army at about 265 lbs. and became a Ranger at 230 pounds.
In December of 2001, Specialist Marc Anthony Anderson returned from his base at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., to visit his old school at Fort Myers Middle School.
By late December, he was deployed, and messages to his family stopped coming. Because of military secrecy, his family wasn’t sure when he went overseas.
No news was bad news.
Marc Anderson became the first U.S. soldier killed in combat during Operation Enduring Freedom, in Afghanistan.
On March 4, 2002, U.S. Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and air crews engaged enemy fighters on the steep, freezing mountain top of Takur Ghar in Afghanistan. It was almost impossible terrain, covered in at least three feet of snow, making any movement difficult if not deadly.
The battle began when two SEAL teams were to be inserted into a landing zone near the peak of Takur Ghar. Razor 03, the Chinook helicopter transporting the first team came under immediate fire.
The second SEAL team also came under fire, and requested the assistance of a quick reaction force, primarily made up of Army Rangers from the 1st battalion – including Marc.
Enemy gunfire forced down the MH-47 Chinook helicopter he was aboard, and SPC Marc Anderson was killed, along with SGT Bradley S. Crose, CPL Matthew A. Commons and Army SOAR SGT. Philip Svitak.
But Marc Anderson wasn’t done serving. In his life insurance policy, he’d left $12,000 to a former student so she would be able to pay off college loans.
“He just thought anything he could do to help me would be good so I wouldn’t be in debt afer college like he was, “ said Jennifer Massing, 18, a senior at Fort Myers High School.
Massing was Anderson’s student when she was in seventh grade. She had good grades in some subjects…but not math. Anderson encouraged her to take home the problems she missed on tests and practice until she could get them right.
Rangers all the way!