Colonel Clarence E. "Bud" Anderson is a World War II triple ace with 16 1/ 4 air victories in the European theater. Anderson was born in Oakland, California and learned to fly in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, receiving his private pilot license in 1941. Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he volunteered for aviation cadet training. He received his wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Air Force on 29 September 1942. Originally assigned to the 328th Fighter Group, Anderson later transferred to the 363rd Fighter Squadron of the 357th Fighter Group, flying the P-39 Airacobra. In November 1943, the 363rd was assigned to Leiston, England and became the first Eighth Air Force unit to receive the P-51 Mustang.
Anderson's first victory came on 8 March 1944, when he destroyed an Me 109 while escorting Allied bombers in a raid on Berlin. A month later, he scored a second victory in nearly the same location, again downing an Me 109. He became an ace on 12 May 1944, when he shot down an Me 109 near Frankfurt, Germany, while on an escort mission to Czechoslovakia. Two weeks later, Anderson scored a double victory against Me 109s while his fighter group destroyed 23 enemy aircraft in one day. Later, in June 1944, he scored a triple victory against FW 190s. Anderson completed his first combat tour in July 1944 with 12 1/4 victories. After a brief rest in the United States, he returned to Europe for a second tour of duty in October 1944 and went on to become the leading ace of the 363rd Fighter Squadron.
After the war, Anderson was assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, where he became a test pilot. He flew over 90 different types of aircraft, testing a great deal of the innovative equipment that has become standard on today's tactical aircraft. He participated in a number of unique test programs, including the wingtip coupling experiments and the parasite fighter program. He progressed through the flight test career field to become the Chief of Test Operations and the Deputy Director of Flight Test at Edwards AFB, California. In 1970, he assumed command of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing at Takhli AB, Thailand, where he flew the F-105 in bombing strikes against North Vietnamese supply lines. During his 30 years of distinguished military service, Colonel Anderson accumulated over 6700 flying hours. Following military retirement in 1972, he joined the McDonnell Aircraft Company as their facilities manager at Edwards AFB. Retired for a second time, he has written the book, To Fly and Fight, about his life in aviation. He remains active in the aviation history community.
June 1944 was a noteworthy month for Anderson and his fellow 357th Fighter Group flyers. Beginning with D-Day, numerous ground support fighter-bomber missions were flown to assist the invading Allied troops. This included the first use in the European Theater of Operations of gasoline-filled belly tanks as firebombs against railroad targets. On 29 June, Anderson's Group flew bomber escort on a historic Eighth Air Force mission, which dispatched 1,150 B-17s and B-24s. Only 17 bombers were lost--none to enemy fighters. That day, Anderson was the Group's high scorer with three FW-190s. After 5 months of combat, Anderson led the 20 aces in the 357th with a total of 11 1/4 victories.