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    Farewell to a Legend: Brig. Gen. Clarence Emil Bud Anderson, WWII Triple Ace, Passes at 102

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    “One of the last icons of World War II aviation, Brig. Gen. Clarence Emil Bud Anderson, renowned as a “triple ace,” has passed away at the age of 102 in his home in Auburn, California.

    His death marks the end of an era, leaving behind a legacy that spans from the heroic dogfights of WWII to the technological advancements of modern aerial warfare.

    Born on January 13, 1922, in Oakland, California, Anderson’s illustrious aviation career began when he became a licensed pilot at the young age of 19.

    Following America’s entry into World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 1942, and by late 1943, he was escorting bombers over Europe as part of the 357th Fighter Group.

    His prowess in the cockpit of his beloved P-51 Mustangs, affectionately named “Old Crow,” quickly became evident.

    In just five months during 1944, Anderson shot down five German planes, achieving “ace” status—a title awarded to pilots with five or more enemy kills.

    Republic F-105D-30-RE (S/N 62-4234) in flight with full bomb load. (U.S. Air Force photo)

    By the end of the year, he had claimed 16 and a quarter enemy aircraft, the quarter being attributed to a collaborative effort.

    Formation of F-105F (S/N 63-8280) and F-105D-31-RE (S/N 62-4355) with Mt. Fuji, Japan in the background. (U.S. Air Force photo)

    His valor and skill earned him several commendations and the admiration of his peers, including fellow aviator and friend, Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager.

    After WWII, Anderson’s combat experience continued through the Korean War ceasefire and into the Vietnam War.

    He led a F-86 squadron and later commanded the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, piloting a F-105 Thunderchief aptly named “Old Crow II,” targeting North Vietnamese supply lines.

    In a career that spanned over three decades, Anderson logged more than 7,500 hours of flight time across 130 different types of aircraft, eventually retiring from the military in 1972 with the rank of colonel.

    He continued his aviation journey at the McDonnell Aircraft Company’s test facility at Edwards Air Force Base, cementing his status as a legend not just in combat but also in aviation development and testing.

    In his personal life, Anderson’s love story with Eleanor Crosby spanned over seven decades until her passing in 2015. Together, they had two children, Jim Anderson and Kitty Burlington, and subsequently, a lineage of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who surrounded him during his peaceful final moments.

    The military community and the nation honored Anderson’s contributions in 2022 when he received an honorary promotion to brigadier general.

    At the ceremony, then-Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Charles Q. Brown, celebrated Anderson’s indomitable spirit, saying, “[Bud’s] kind of a wrecking ball of a guy and I think for many of us, probably wouldn’t want to have him behind us shooting us down—he had a distinguished career. It was really good to have a chance just to read through [some of Bud’s service records] and for me personally to reflect on the impact you had on our history of our Air Force.”

    Relevant articles:
    Bud Anderson, the last World War II ‘triple ace,’ dies at 102, Task & Purpose
    Farewell to Bud Anderson, the last triple ace of the United States aviation in World War II, Contando Estrelas
    Brig. Gen. Bud Anderson Dies At 102, AVweb

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