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Mustang Ace Bud Anderson: WWII Hero and Flying Legend

Early Life and Flight Beginnings

Clarence Emil “Bud” Anderson was born on January 13, 1922, in Oakland, California.

He grew up on a farm near Newcastle and was part of a generation captivated by the possibilities of flight.

Bud earned his private pilot’s license in 1941 through the Civilian Pilot Training Program.

By January 1942, he entered the U.S. Army Aviation Cadet program, earning his wings and commission into the U.S. Army Air Forces in September that same year.

World War II Service

During World War II, Anderson flew with the 363rd Fighter Squadron of the 357th Fighter Group, Eighth Air Force, which was stationed in England.

He and his fellow pilots, known affectionately as the “Yoxford Boys,” piloted P-51 Mustangs with distinctive yellow-and-red checkered noses.

These Mustangs were escorting B-17 and B-24 bombers while also engaging the Luftwaffe to secure air superiority over Europe.

Anderson flew 116 combat missions in various versions of the Mustang, which he named Old Crow, achieving 16 ¼ aerial victories. This accomplishment earned him the status of a triple ace.

Post-World War II Career

After World War II, Anderson continued his illustrious career with the U.S. Air Force.

He served as a test pilot and held several high-ranking positions, including director of operations at Wright-Patterson and Edwards Air Force Bases.

His leadership extended to commanding an F-86 Sabre squadron in Korea and an F-105 Thunderchief wing in Okinawa.

He also led the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, flying 25 combat missions during the Vietnam War.

Anderson retired from the Air Force in 1972, then managed McDonnell Aircraft’s Flight Test Facility at Edwards Air Force Base until 1984.

Retirement and Legacy

In full retirement, Anderson moved back to Auburn, California, with his wife, Eleanor.

Not one to rest, he engaged deeply with the World War II aviation community.

His autobiography, To Fly and Fight, released in 1990, chronicled his wartime experiences.

He became a regular presence at airshows, museums, and in media, often appearing with his fellow WWII veteran and squadron mate, Chuck Yeager.

Roush Aviation kept the legacy of Old Crow alive, showcasing the aircraft at various airshows, including the iconic EAA AirVenture.

Record and Achievements

Bud Anderson’s career was decorated with numerous accolades:

AwardNumber Received
Legion of Merit2
Distinguished Flying Cross5
Bronze Star1
Air Medals16
French Legion of Honor1
French Croix de Guerre1

In December 2022, Anderson was honored with an honorary promotion to Brigadier General, bestowed by U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown.

Personal Contributions and Artifacts

Anderson shared his personal artifacts, including his flight helmet, goggles, and jacket, with museums, enhancing public exhibits.

Among these, his Royal Air Force Type C Helmet and Mk. VIII Goggles were particularly noteworthy.

His utilitarian A-2 jacket bore no identifiable insignia, intended to conceal information from enemies if he were captured.

Public and Historical Impact

Bud Anderson’s contributions to history and the field of aviation earned him a revered spot in both military and public spheres.

He left a tangible legacy through his personal items, now permanently displayed in museums.

These artifacts not only preserve his personal history but also highlight the bravery and innovative spirit of World War II aviators.

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