Sixty-seven years ago, while flying with the 72nd Air Sea Rescue, I met a Triple Ace. This hero of mine was Clarence ‘Bud’ Anderson, and he is now a retired colonel with 30 years of military service who visited Travis Air Force Base recently. Col. Anderson is a World War II ‘Triple Ace’ who is credited with 16.25 aerial victories while piloting the P-51 Mustang.
His name in written in the history books of Air Force legends, along with those such as General Curtis E. LeMay and General Robin Olds, airmen who shaped the Air Force we serve in today.
By the end of World War II, retired Col. Anderson had flown nearly 500 hours in combat, a total of 116 missions, without ever being shot down.
At the age of 48, he flew combat strikes as a wing commander against communist supply lines in Viet Nam.
He retired with more than 7,000 flight hours logged, and more than 100 types of aircraft flown. Even at the age of 91 he is still an active pilot.
As the famous Chuck Yeager said of him, “He’s the best pilot I ever saw.”
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.