Bud Anderson, the last pilot of World War II, dies at the age of 102 – Top Stories (Trending Perfect)

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Dean. Gen. Bud Anderson, who single-handedly shot down 16 German planes over Europe in World War II and became the last living American aviator, a fighter pilot who killed 15 or more people, died Friday at his home in Auburn, California. , northeast of Sacramento.

General Anderson, who cooperated with the famous Brig. General Chuck Yeager's age in combat, and later in the legendary era of pioneering test pilots, was 102 years old.

His family, in a statement General Anderson websiteHe said he died in his sleep.

During his 30 years of military service, General Anderson flew more than 130 types of aircraft, logging approximately 7,500 flight hours.

He flew P-51 Mustang helicopter fighters in World War II—dubbed Old Crow, after his favorite brand of whiskey—and logged 116 missions totaling about 480 hours of combat without aborting a single foray.

When World War II ended, he was promoted to major at the age of 23. When he retired from active service in 1972, he held the rank of colonel.

His decorations included two Legion of Merit citations, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star, and 16 Air Medals.

He was promoted to the honorary rank of brigadier general by then-Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., in a ceremony at the California Aerospace Museum in December 2022. Gen. Brown called him “kind of a wrecking ball of a guy.”

General Anderson recorded the third highest number of “kills” in the Army Air Forces' 357th Fighter Group, whose three squadrons shot down nearly 700 German aircraft, most of them while protecting American bombers on missions over Europe.

General Yeager was General Anderson's squadron mate and shot down 13 German aircraft. General Yeager became the first pilot to break the sound barrier in 1947, and later joined General Anderson in the California flight test program chronicled in Tom Wolfe's book “The Right Stuff” (1979).

“On the ground, he was the kindest person you could ever know,” General Yeager said of General Anderson as he reflected on their war years.

But as he said in his 1985 autobiography, Yeager, which he wrote with Lee Jonas: “Up in the sky, those damned Germans must have thought they were facing a Frankenstein or a Wolfman. Andy would knock them to the ground, and dive with them into the damned grave, if necessary, to destroy them.

General Anderson attributed his prowess in air combat to his exceptional ability to recognize enemy fighters such as the German Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs when they were mere specks in the sky, preparing to pounce.

“Perhaps part of it goes back to my fascination with airplanes as a child, making models, and filling scrapbooks with pictures,” he recalls in Flying and Fighting: Memoirs of a Triple Ace (1990), co-written with Joseph P. Hamelin. “But the part has to be physical. I've always thought that my eyes communicate with my brain a little faster than average.

He added of the German fighter planes: “I wanted to see them. I was probably more motivated than most.

He flew his first mission in February 1944, with 363 Squadron, and became a captain (a pilot with at least five “kills”) in mid-May. He was credited with 16 kills and a quarter killed on a mission in which he joined three other pilots in shooting down a German plane. General Yeager, who had flown a P-51 in that squadron while holding the rank of captain, was shot down over France in March 1944. He parachuted out with wounds to his leg and head, was hidden by the French Resistance, and eventually returned to England and continued to fly in the war.

General Anderson became a test pilot at what is now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio in the late 1940s and early 1950s. After retiring from the Air Force in March 1972, he was chief of combat test operations for McDonnell Aircraft Corporation at Edwards Air Force Base in the California high desert. General Yeager, portrayed by Tom Wolfe as embodying “the brotherhood of truth” due to his nonchalance in the face of air emergencies, became deputy director of flight tests.

General Anderson commanded a tactical fighter wing in the Vietnam War and flew 25 missions in an F-105 Thunder Chief dubbed Old Crow II, bombing enemy supply routes along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Clarence Emil Anderson Jr., known as Bud since he was a boy, was born on January 13, 1922 in Oakland, California, and grew up in Newcastle, near Sacramento.

He was fascinated by the commercial airplanes flying over his city, and his father, a farmer, gave him a ride in a biplane when he was seven years old..

“As far back as I can remember, I wanted to fly,” he recalled in an interview with the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

He earned his pilot's license in a civilian training program as a teenager, then when he was 20, he joined the Army Air Wing a few weeks after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

He married Eleanor Cosby in 1945. She died in 2015. His survivors include his son, James; His daughter, Catherine Burlington. Four grandchildren. and five great-grandchildren, according to his website.

The last World War II mission for both General Anderson and General Yeager came in January 1945, when they were auxiliary pilots for an air raid on Germany.

When they saw that none of the other pilots had encountered problems that led to their miscarriage, they embarked on an unauthorized joyride, touring buildings in neutral Switzerland and France, then celebrating back at their base in a drinking contest with “bad rye.” As mentioned by General Anderson.

“Chuck collapsed first,” he wrote in a recollection in General Yeager’s memoirs. “I vaguely remember hitting him on the head with my canteen cup to force him to stand up and continue.”

They remained close friends in the decades after the war, often going on hunting and fishing trips together.

But for all the camaraderie and joy of winning so many air battles, General Anderson saw war as “stupid and wasteful, and not glorious.”

As he said in his memoirs: “Our nation must remain strong, and negotiate from that strength, while promoting better understanding among all the nations of the Earth.”

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