Bern Anderson was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on 12 June 1900, son of Andrew B. and Hattie F. (Marsh) Anderson. He was graduated from Northeast (Kansas City) High School in 1916 and attended the Kansas City Junior College for one year before his appointnent to the US Naval Academy, Annnapolis, Maryland, in 1917. He had World War I service as a Mishipman aboard USS Wisconsin during the summer of 1918. Graduated with the Class of 1921-A on 4 June 1920, and commissioned Ensign on that date, he subsequently attained the rank of Captain, to date from 20 June 1942. He was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on 30 June 1950 and promoted to Rear Admiral on the basis of combat citations.
Upon graduation from the Naval Academy in June 1920, he was assigned to USS Charleston, operating in the Pacific, and a year later was transferred to the USS Jacob Jones. He remained in the Pacific with duty aboard USS Yarborough, operating with Destroyer Squadron 12 from October 1921 to May 1926, and for most of the year thereafter served in USS Texas, of the Atlantic Fleet.
In June 1927 he was ordered to the Navy Department, Washington, DC, where he was on duty for two years in the Communications Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. From September 1929 to March 1932 he served on the staff of Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, attached first to USS Pittsburgh and later USS Houston, flagships. He then returned for a second tour of duty in the Navy Department, this time serving in the Bureau of Engineering.
In April 1934 he assumed command of USS Swallow (AM 4), tender serving Naval facilities (radio stations) in Alaska. As a result of varying duties in the Aleutian Islands and cruising in Alaskans waters, he obtained a Department of Commerce license as Master of ocean vessels (unlimited) with endorsemont as "First Class pilot for Southwestern and Southeastern Alaskan waters." He returned to the United States in June 1937 to serve for two years as Recruit Training Officer, Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois.
Again ordered to duty afloat, he served as Navigator of USS Mississippi from June 1939 until December 1941, while that battleship operated first in the Pacific and for the last six months in the Atlantic, being based in Iceland from September to December 1941. Following a period of hospitalization, he commanded USS Vixen, then flagship of the Commander in Chief, US Fleet, during May and June 1942, and completed the Senior Course at the Naval War College, Newport Rhode Island, in December of that year.
From January 1943 until August 1944 he served on the staff of Commander, Seventh Amphibious Force, first as Planning Officer and later as Control Officer. During that period he participated in various landing operations in New Guinea, New Britain, and the Admiralties, and acted as liaison officer at Headquarters of the Commanding General, Sixth US Army. He was awarded the Legion of Merit, with Combat "V," and cited, in part, as follows:
Legion of Merit: "For exceptionally meritorious conduct.....as Control Officer during amphibious landing operations in Netherlands, New Guineau, at Humboldt Bay and at Wakde, Biak and Noemfoor Islands, on 22 April, May 17 and 27 and 2 July 1944, respectively.....(He) skillfully controlled the movement of all boats approaching hostile positions.....in the face of intense enemy fire..... effecting successful amphibious landings on strategic outpost sections of the empire seized and developed militarily by the Japanese early in the war...."
Returning to the Naval War College in September 1944 he served on the staff there until June 1946. He then was ordered to the Atlantic Fleet Amphibious Force, to serve for two years, first as Commander Transport Division 22, and later, as Chief of Staff to Commander, Amphibious Group Two. In June 1948 he again returned to the Naval War College where he served as Head of the Department of Strategy and Tactics, Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, until relieved of active duty pending his retirement on 30 June 1950.
In addition to the Legion of Merit with Combat "V", Rear Admiral Anderson has the Victory Medal, Atlantic Fleet Clasp (World War I); the Yangtze Campaign Medal; American Defense Service Medal, with bronze "A" American Campaign Medal; European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three battles stars; and the World War II Victory Medal.