Joseph Bruce Anderson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on 14 February 1889, son of Joseph M. and Luella Godfrey Anderson, both now deceased. He was graduated from the University of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio (AB, 1911) and later was Professor of Chemistry at Tusculum College, Tennessee. He was an instructor at Goodyear's Aeronautical School in the summer of 1917, and in August of that year enrolled in the US Naval Reserve Force. He qualified as a Free and Kite Balloon Pilot and was commissioned Ensign, USNRF, on 29 January 1918, and served during the remaining period of World War I at the Naval Air Station, Rockaway, Long Island, N. Y., and overseas.
After briefing in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC, he reported on 30 April 1918, to the Aviation Section, Naval Headquarters, London, England, and subsequently was assigned to Naval Aviation Forces, Paris, France; as Aerological Officer at the Naval Station, Lough Foyle, Ireland (June to September 1918); and as Aerological Officer at Palmboeuf, France, throughout October and November. After the Armistice he had duty abroad as Aerological Officer at Ponta Delgada, Azores, during the trans-Atlantic Flight of the NC boats in June 1919, and served as Aerological Officer on board the NC-4 during the recruiting trip of that boat during the period October 1919 to January 1920.
A year's service at the Naval Aeronautic Station, Pensacola, Florida, and two months at Hampton Roads, Virginia, preceded his assignment from May to October 1921 (in the rank of Lieutenant, USNRF) with the Rigid Airship Detachment, Howden, England, in connection with the R-38 (renamed the ZR-2) which crashed on its trial flight near Hull, England, before it could be taken over by the United States from the British Government. From November 1921 to January 1923 he again served at Pensacola and during that period was discharged from the US Naval Reserve Force (effective 29 November 1921) and appointed Lieutenant in the US Navy.
Appointed Naval Aviator (lta) on 20 November 1921, he was ordered in January 1923 to the Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey, and from 8 November 1923 until 3 September 1925, had additional duty on board the USS Shenandoah. When that airship crashed in Ohio, 14 of the 43 men on board were killed. He was in the nose section, which broke away from the rest and free-ballooned for about two hours and landed twelve miles away from the other wreckage. Detached from Lakehurst in April 1928, he had sea duty for two years, first on board the USS Lexington, and from January 1929 until May 1930 in the USS Saratoga, both aircraft carrier units of the Battle Fleet.
He next had a tour of duty at the Naval Air Station, Anacostia, DC., then from December 1931 until June 1934, had successive service in the USS Salt Lake City, a cruiser of the Scouting Force; the USS Chester, also operating with the Scouting Force; and the USS Brazos, a unit of Train Squadron ONE, Base Force. He returned to the Naval Air Station, Anacostia, in June 1934, and after a year there served two years in the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department. From September 1937 until August 1939 he was assigned to Headquarters, Sixteenth Naval District, Cavite, Philippine Islands, then returned to the Bureau of Aeronautics to serve until October 1940, in the Flight Division. While there he was promoted to the rank of Commander.
After duty from October 1940 until May 1941 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, he served at the Navy Yard (Long Range Forecasting Unit), Washington, DC during the entire World War II period (December 1941-September 1945) and until August 1946. While there he was promoted to Captain, to date from 7 December 1945. When detached he was released from active duty, pending his retirement from the Naval Service on 1 January 1947.
Captain Anderson has the World War I Victory Medal, Overseas Clasp; the American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; and World War II Victory Medal.
He is a member of the American Meteorological Society, District of Columbia Branch.