During World War II, Colonel "Bud" Mahurin was the first USAAF double ace in Europe and the first recipient of the Silver Star in the famous 56th Fighter Group. Flying the rugged P-47 Razorback, Mahurin was competing for the group's " top ace" position until his damaged aircraft forced him to bail out over France in March 1944. He evaded capture with the aid of the French underground and made his way back to England. However, following standard procedures, he was restricted from further combat in Europe. Major Mahurin tired quickly of War Bond drives in the United States and leaped at an offer to fly combat with the 3rd Air Commando Group in the Pacific. He ended the war as a P-51 squadron commander, having achieved 19 3/4 aerial victories in Europe and an additional "kill" in the Pacific.
Furthermore, he had the unique distinction of being forced to bail out in both theaters! When the Korean War erupted in 1950, it offered him the opportunity to escape a desk job in the Pentagon. Initially assigned on a 90-day temporary tour to Korea, Colonel Mahurin scored 3 1/2 victories flying the F-86, and was appointed commander of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Group. In this capacity, he loaded bombs on his F-86s as part of a plan to lure Communist MiGs into a trap. With bombs falling around their airfields, the Communists launched and fell prey to the waiting American Sabrejets. On such a sortie in May 1952, Mahurin's aircraft was hit by ground fire and he was forced to crash-land in North Korea.
Taken prisoner and kept in solitary confinement for 16 months, he was subjected to brainwashing--a new brutality unknown to the free world. Colonel Mahurin refused to cooperate, and only after the Chinese condemned him to death for conducting germ warfare did he confess to an absurd allegation of transporting insects at 40,000 feet in his F-86 and dropping them on North Korea during the dead of winter.
When the Communist Chinese finally produced his written confession as "proof" of American germ warfare, the true nature of the facade was exposed and Chinese claims were dismissed by the United Nations. After his release in September 1953, Colonel Mahurin's willingness to discuss brainwashing techniques and the psychological pressures applied to American POWs greatly aided in the establishment of current Air Force survival courses. He later published his military exploits in his autobiography, Honest John.
Scoring triple victories on three occasions during World War II, "Bud " Mahurin achieved his first triple tally on 4 October 1943. While escorting heavy bombers over the Ruhr Valley on this day, he spotted 40 to 60 German Me-110s closing on the bomber formation. He counterattacked in his P-47, ripping apart the first and second Me-110s, then raced ahead to catch up with the bombers. Suddenly, Mahurin saw another Me-110 heading home. He then jumped the straggler and fired his remaining ammunition until the enemy pilot bailed out. "Bud" Mahurin became an ace with his fourth, fifth, and sixth kills on this mission.