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    America’s Last Triple Ace: WWII Hero Bud Anderson Passes at 102

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    As the sun set on May 17, 2024, a chapter in American military history gently closed. Brig. Gen. Clarence Emil “Bud” Anderson, a World War II icon and the last surviving “triple ace,” passed away at the venerable age of 102.

    Bud Anderson” by fonsecam63 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    It was a peaceful farewell at his home in Auburn, California, surrounded by his family who said on his website: “Dad lived an amazing life and was loved by many. He was 102! Thank you for all your kind comments and messages.”

    “Bud” Anderson’s story is the epitome of a bygone era’s bravery, a tale woven into the fabric of American valor. Born in Oakland, California, on January 13, 1922, Anderson’s early fascination with aviation led him to earn his pilot’s license while still in college.

    In January 1942, just after America’s entrance into WWII, he enlisted, and by late 1943, Anderson was in England, engaged in the grim dance of aerial warfare.

    Throughout the war, Anderson excelled as a fighter pilot with the 357th Fighter Group, taking to the skies in his P-51 Mustang aptly named “Old Crow.”

    His mettle in combat soared as rapidly as his aircraft, downing enemy planes and by the war’s end tallying an impressive 16 and a quarter kills—the quarter attributed to a team effort. This record bestowed upon him the revered status of “triple ace,” a distinction highlighting his extraordinary skill in combat.

    Anderson’s comradeship with the legendary Chuck Yeager, another fighter pilot and military test pilot, further underscored the remarkable cadre of aviators of the time.

    Their aerial exploits would echo through history, with Anderson logging over 7,500 flight hours in more than 130 different types of aircraft.

    His service, however, did not cease with WWII. The skies called him back during the Korean War and later in Vietnam, where he commanded the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, focusing on debilitating North Vietnamese supply lines.

    His military career concluded in 1972, with Anderson retiring as a colonel and later taking on a role at the McDonnell Aircraft Company’s test facility at Edwards Air Force Base.

    In a testament to his legacy, Anderson was awarded an honorary promotion to brigadier general in 2022.

    Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s top officer, presents Cadet Ernesto Green with an award for being named the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy Distinguished Honor Graduate during a Dec. 20 graduation ceremony in Mauston, Wis. Wisconsin National Guard photo by Sgt. Oscar Gollaz

    Charles Q. Brown, then-Chief of Staff of the Air Force, remarked at the ceremony, “[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.”

    Famed Flying Tigers Ace and Texas Air National Guardsman Brig. Gen. David Lee “Tex” Hill poses in front of a single-engine Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk fighter. The plane used by the Flying Tigers to defend China during WWII. General Hill died Oct. 11 in San Antonio. (Courtesy photo)

    The personal life of “Bud” Anderson was as rich as his professional one. Marrying Eleanor Crosby in 1945, the couple remained together for seventy years until her passing in 2015. His centenary in 2022 celebrated a life steeped in accomplishment and dedication.

    Clarence ‘Bud’ Anderson In 1944 With P-51D ‘Old Crow’” by Brevort is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Bud Anderson is survived by his legacy, both familial and historical. A family, including his son Jim, daughter Kitty Burlington, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, honor his memory.

    Bud Anderson poses by his Brass Version of Himself!” by James Good is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    He was honored many times in his life, including being inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, as well as being commemorated with a bronze statue at Auburn Municipal Airport.

    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

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