On his 100th birthday, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran Clarence “Bud” Anderson, a World War II triple ace fighter pilot.
Born in Oakland, California, Clarence “Bud” Anderson spent his childhood on a farm near Newcastle, California. At the age of seven, his father took him on his first ride in a Stearman biplane, which ultimately influenced his future career as a pilot in the Air Force. In January 1942, Anderson enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program. He earned his wings and commission at Luke Field, Arizona, in September 1942.
During World War II, Anderson flew two tours of combat in Europe against the Luftwaffe—Nazi Germany’s air force. From November 1943 to January 1945, he flew the P-51 Mustang with the 357th Fighter Group, 363rd Fighter Squadron, in the 8th Air Force. The group, known as “Yoxford Boys,” destroyed about 609 aircraft during this time and produced 42 aces, or pilots with five or more victories in the air. Anderson flew over 116 combat missions and destroyed more than 16 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, making him a triple ace.
Anderson returned to the U.S. in January 1945, and went on to marry Eleanor Cosby. He served at Perrin Field, Texas, until October 1945, when he was assigned as a recruiter in Ohio. In May 1948, he left his recruitment assignment and went to Alaska for six months to test the F-82. From February 1953 to September 1954, Anderson served two tours with the Pentagon as an advanced research and development planner and then as the director of operational requirements. After, he attended Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, from September 1954 to August 1955. His last active assignment was during the Vietnam War as commander of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing where he flew the F-105 Thunderchief in bombing strikes against enemy supply lines in Southeast Asia.
In March 1972, Anderson retired with the rank of colonel. His awards include two Legions of Merit, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star, 16 Air Medals and a French Croix De Guerre.
After retirement, Anderson worked for 12 years with the McDonnell Aircraft Company. In 1990, he co-authored “To Fly and Fight: Memories of a Triple Ace,” a book about his service. In July 2008, the National Aviation Hall of Fame inducted Anderson.
His wife, Eleanor, passed away in January 2015, in Auburn, California. Currently, Anderson still resides in California.
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Writer: Elizabeth Jefimova
Editors: Katherine Adams & Erica MacSweeney
Researcher: Michael Macias, Jordan Gossett
Graphic Designer: Grace Yang