Clarence “Bud” E. Anderson is a true aviator, triple ace, and test pilot. His military career spanned more than thirty years of distinguished service. He accumulated more than 7,000 flying hours, flying in two wars. Born in Oakland, California Bud learned to fly in the Civilian Pilot Training Program and received his private pilot license in 1941. On his twentieth birthday, he finally met the age criteria for joining the Army Air Corps, and on that day, he volunteered for aviation cadet training. Bud received his wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant on September 29th, 1942.
Originally assigned to the 328th Fighter Group, He later transferred to the 363d Fighter Squadron of the 357th Fighter Group, flying the P-39 “Airacobra.” In November 1943, the 363d was assigned to Leiston, England and became the first unit in the 8th Air Force to receive the P-51 Mustang. His squadron painted their Mustangs with red and yellow checkered noses and red rudders. Bud’s P-51 was named “Old Crow” after the whiskey brand. Bud's first victory came on March 8th, 1944 when he destroyed an Me-109 while escorting Allied bombers on a raid of Berlin. A month later, he scored a second victory in nearly the same location, once again downing an Me-109. That same day Bud and three other pilots from his squadron took part in shooting down an He-111. Since all four pilots had shots on the bomber, they each got a quarter-kill. While on an escort mission to Czechoslovakia on May 12th, 1944, he became an ace when he downed an Me-109 near Frankfurt, Germany. Two weeks later, Bud scored a double victory against Me-109s while his fighter group destroyed twenty-three enemy aircraft in one day. Later, in June 1944, he scored a triple victory against Fw-190s. Bud completed his first combat tour in July 1944 with twelve and one-quarter victories to his credit. After a brief rest in the United States, he returned to Europe for a second tour in October 1944 and went on to become the leading ace of the 363d Fighter Squadron with sixteen and one-quarter aerial victories in 116 combat missions.
After the war, Bud became a test pilot and was assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. He flew over ninety different types of aircraft, testing many of the innovations that have become standard equipment on today's tactical aircraft. Eventually, Bud became the Chief of Test Operations and the Deputy Director of Flight Testing 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 “Thunderchief” in bombing strikes against North Vietnamese supply lines. Bud was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross with four oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal with fifteen oak leaf clusters, and the French ‘Croix de Guerre’ with Palm. After a distinguished military career of over thirty years, he retired in 1972. Bud joined the McDonnell Aircraft Company as their facilities manager at Edwards AFB until 1998. Since entering retirement, he has written the book “To Fly and Fight,” which tells the story of his life in aviation. In recognition of his achievements, three privately-owned P-51 Mustangs are painted as “Old Crow” today, exactly like his World War II fighters.
Col “Bud” Anderson soars in his P-51 Mustang, “Old Crow.” In his two WWII tours of combat in Europe, he amassed 16 ¼ aerial victories, making him a triple ace.