Henry B. Anderson was born May 30, 1918 in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania and educated in Edgewood, a suburb of Pittsburgh. He graduated high school with high honors and continued his education at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. After completing his undergraduate degree in 1940, he accepted a position at Wesleyan as assistant to the Director of Admissions, Victor L. Butterfield, who would later become president of the University.
While pursuing a Master’s degree and working under Dr. Butterfield, the war in Europe escalated. Anderson left Wesleyan and entered the U.S. Navy in June of 1941. He served as enlisted personnel officer of Headquarters Squadron Eight, then for Commander Fleet Air. In 1944 he was transferred to the staff of Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, Commander of Task Force 58, to serve as Awards Officer. In 1945 he survived two kamikaze attacks within the same week on the carriers Bunker Hill and Enterprise. He was awarded a silver star for his efforts in organizing firefighting parties aboard the Bunker Hill. Additionally, for services rendered to Admiral Mitscher and his staff as flag secretary he was awarded a bronze star.