May 20, 2024

World War II Hero Dead at 102

There are war heroes, and there are legends, and I think Bud Anderson would qualify as the latter.

He was the only Triple Ace, having shot down 16 German planes during World War II.

Sadly, he passed away, having lived to the ripe old age of 102.

A War Legend

An Ace is something that we are likely to never see again unless the United States enters another major war.

In order to become an Ace, you must have five confirmed kills in air-to-air combat.

The last person to achieve Ace status was Captain Richard “Steve” Ritchie in 1972.

At the start of this year, there were only a handful of Aces still alive, but none of them had the status of Anderson, who was a Triple Ace, meaning he had shot down at least 15 enemy planes.

With this designation, he stood alone in military history, the only pilot to have ever notched that many wins in air-to-air combat.

Technically, Anderson had been credited with 16.25 kills, with the .25 a joint kill of a German plane.

He served alongside Chuck Yeager, another military legend, and both went on to serve as test pilots after the war.

In addition to World War II, Anderson also flew combat missions in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

By the time Anderson stopped flying, he had more than 7,500 hours in the sky and flown more than 130 different types of aircraft.

Anderson retired from the military in 1972 as a full-bird colonel in the Air Force, promoted to Brigadier General (honorary) in 2022.

Among the fruit salad on his chest is the Legion of Merit (2), the Distinguished Flying Cross (5), a Bronze Star, and the Air Medal (16).

I think it is fairly safe to say that we will never see another pilot as accomplished as Anderson in uniform.

Rest in peace, Bud, and thank you for your service to this country.

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