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    WWII Triple Ace “Bud” Anderson: A Legend Takes Final Flight at 102

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    Brigadier General Clarence “Bud” Anderson, a heroic figure from World War II known as the last of the American triple aces, took his final flight from this world on May 17, 2024, at the venerable age of 102.

    A symbol of bravery and excellence in aviation, Anderson passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Auburn, California, surrounded by a loving family who said he “passed away in his home peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his family. We were blessed to have him as our father. Dad lived an amazing life and was loved by many.”

    Anderson’s life was one marked by the sky. Born in Oakland, California, he learned to fly at the age of 19 and quickly distinguished himself during the war as a member of the 357th Fighter Group, known affectionately as the “Yoxford Boys.”

    He served two combat tours between November 1943 and January 1945, flying the P-51 Mustang to 116 combat missions, and securing his place in history by shooting down 16 and 1/4 enemy aircraft in aerial combat and another on the ground. His aerial prowess made him the highest scoring ace of his squadron.

    This Air Force legend’s career did not end with the war. After World War II, Anderson transitioned to a test pilot, diving into the jet age, and flying over 130 different aircraft types during his service.

    His contributions to military aviation were recognized with numerous decorations, including five Distinguished Flying Crosses, 16 Air Medals, two Legions of Merit, a Bronze Star, the French Legion of Honor, and the French Croix de Guerre, among other commendations and service ribbons.

    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)

    Anderson’s military expertise extended beyond the cockpit. He held significant positions, including serving as the wing commander of the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing on Okinawa and later the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing based in Thailand.

    Following his military retirement in 1972, Anderson joined the McDonnell Aircraft Company and managed a test facility at Edwards Air Force Base in California, before fully retiring in 1984.

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

    Even after retiring from active duty, Anderson’s legacy continued to soar. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the International Air & Space Hall of Fame, and in 2015, was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. In 2022, the Air Force promoted him to the honorary rank of brigadier general, a fitting tribute to his extraordinary service.

    Known for his association with the P-51 Mustang Old Crow, Anderson left an indelible mark on the aviation community, including participation in numerous airshows, sharing his experience as a guest of honor at the Commemorative Air Force events, and being a featured speaker at the Arsenal of Democracy Flyovers commemorating the end of World War II.

    The loss of Bud Anderson is deeply felt by many, including Pete Bunce, President and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, who referred to Anderson as “a true American hero who selflessly served our nation with distinction and honor.”

    John Cudahy, President of the International Council of Air Shows, highlighted Anderson’s role in educating and inspiring thousands through his recollections of military service.

    As we remember Bud Anderson, his legacy endures through his surviving two children, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, and countless admirers who will continue to cherish the freedoms he valiantly fought to secure.

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

    He was promoted to the honorary rank of brigadier general in 2022 by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. During the ceremony, Anderson urged young individuals to pursue their aspirations.

    “Have at it! You can be what you want to be and you should know that when you like what you do, you can excel, be a better person at your job to do it better.” Anderson said.

    Relevant articles:
    Remembering the Late WWII Triple Ace Bud Anderson, FLYING Magazine
    Bud Anderson, last surviving World War II triple ace pilot, dies at 102, CBS News
    Arsenal of Democracy Flyover Leaders Mourn the Loss of WWII Triple Ace Bud Anderson, Commemorative Air Force
    Brig. Gen. ‘Bud’ Anderson, the last of the American WWII triple aces, dies at 102, KCBD

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