Friday, November 20, 2009

Deployed Oregon soldier uses laughs, magic tricks for international relations

Chief Warrant Officer William “Scott” Anderson, a Canby, Ore., resident and medevac pilot for 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, prepares an illusion during his magic show for Task Force Double Eagle at Joint Base Balad, Oct. 31.

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Often National Guard Soldiers apply their civilian training to enhance their military deployments.

A Soldier in Task Force 38’s MEDEVAC unit, Company C, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment did just that during his mobilization here.

When the Canby, Ore., resident was not using his military skills as a medevac pilot for Company C to help people receive medical attention during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Chief Warrant Officer William S. “Scott” Anderson applied his civilian skills as a magician to help people in a different way.

Anderson used illusions mixed with comedy to provide an escape from deployment life and entertain fellow service members, civilian contractors and local Iraqis.

“He’s professional when he needs to be, but he can lighten the mood when it’s needed,” added Sgt. John McCully, a MEDEVAC crew chief and Camas, Ore., resident.

In his free time, Anderson performed frequent shows at the medevac company’s coffee shop, during holidays and at unit events. He also participated in, and won, Joint Base Balad’s October talent show.

“He has helped the moral of the company,” said McCully. “Whenever we have events, at work, pretty much whenever he’s around, the guy has a gimmick up his sleeve. He loves entertaining people.”

Anderson’s illusions ranged anywhere from impromptu card tricks for friends, pulling a participant’s previously signed dollar out of an uncut lemon randomly chosen by that participant, to transforming handkerchiefs into candy for Iraqi children.

Anderson also used his magic and comedy as a way of breaking the ice with new people around JBB and forming relationships with Iraqis.

“He is good at building relationships with people,” said Sgt. Candice Westlund, Corvallis, Ore. resident.

Anderson worked through translators to perform shows for groups of Iraqi children during base-hosted events and completed illusions for the Iraqi special weapons and tactics officers. He also worked with parents to entertain children under care of the hospital here.

“His tricks make kids smile and forget that they are in pain or injured,” said Westlund.

Deployed Oregon Magician Brings Laughter, Entertainment to Iraq

While entertaining others and helping them through the deployment, Anderson said his magic provided an outlet for him.

“It’s a piece of home I got to bring with me,” he said. “It’s something I can do that’s fun, and it is good for stress.”

Anderson has been a performance magician since 1999. He started entertaining elementary kids at Fort Lewis, Wash., during drug abuse resistance education he taught by using illusions he learned from a friend. From there, he expanded his audience to birthday parties, state fair goers and stage acts including large scale illusions.

“The better I got, the more shows I could get,” Anderson said. “I was doing side jobs at nights and on weekends.”

When he deployed to Afghanistan, Anderson continued his magic shows to entertain Soldiers and Afghanis. He continued to develop his shows by incorporating personal experiences from his deployment, and then used those experiences to once again entertain Soldiers and Iraqis during his latest deployment.

While magic proved beneficial during times overseas, it was those same deployments and experiences that proved beneficial to Anderson’s magic career.

“After being here and performing for Iraqi kids, I came up with a kids’ show to do back home,” said Anderson. “It teaches kids lessons in patriotism: what it means, freedom, taking pride in your country, celebrating diversity and patriotic symbols.”

Working under the name of “Sgt. Stripes,” Anderson is scheduled to perform his show, “The Magic of Patriotism,” when he returns home for Oregon students enrolled in reading programs.

He also plans to continue performing as a magician for larger audiences after the OIF deployment. In his free time, Anderson worked on his newest show, “The Magician Expeditions,” a biographical theater magic show based on his deployment interactions and experiences.

More about information about Anderson and his shows can be found at

Story by Spc. Beth Gorenc, Task Force 38 Public Affairs

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