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Gathering of Eagles
Col. Clarence “Bud” Anderson (retired) stands in front of a P-51 Mustang during the Gathering of Eagles annual event at Maxwell Air Force Base, June 6, 2014. Anderson, who is a triple Ace from WWII, flew a P-51 Mustang during the allied invasion of Normandy 70 years ago to the day, known as D-Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook)
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2014 Eagle recalls D-Day, reflects on lost comrades

Posted 6/13/2014   Updated 6/13/2014 Email story   Print story


by Donovan Jackson
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/13/2014 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- With more than 7,500 flight hours logged in more than 130 types of aircraft, retired Air Force Col. Clarence E. "Bud" Anderson, a 2014 Eagle who visited Maxwell for the Gathering of Eagles June 2-6, has cemented his position as a pioneer in American military during times of war.

During World War II, Anderson served two combat tours escorting heavy bombers over Europe in the P-51 Mustang. Additionally, he served the 357th Fighter Squadron from 1943 through 1945. During that time, he flew 110 combat missions and destroyed more than 16 enemy aircraft in aerial combat and one more on the ground.

Though it was an intense time for Anderson, he says that the aerial combat was not nearly as frightening as simply arriving to his destinations.

"I wish they would have given us GPS's during World War II," said Anderson. "Flying with 32 other planes at the same time, in the dark on D-Day was terrifying."
Anderson vividly remembers how he felt on that monumental day.

"On D-Day, it was the longest mission that I had ever flown. We took off on an early, dark morning. I remember logging in over six hours of flying time that day. We were on patrol behind the lines to be there at daylight. It was intense, to say the least; however, I was not scared. "

Anderson believes those who lost their lives during World War II and D-Day must never be forgotten and continuously honored.

"D-Day was such a turning point and significant event in American history," Anderson said. "The fact that I participated in defeating the opposition so that the invasion could happen is very important to American history. However, I believe that it was also a double-edged sword scenario, as well. Although we defeated a large number of the enemy, we suffered tremendous loss on that day and during the war. We must continue making it a priority to honor those who did not make it back to their country."

After World War II, Anderson continued his military career.

Highlights of Anderson's 30-year career include duty as commander of an F-86 fighter squadron in post-war Korea, commander of an F-105 tactical fighter wing on Okinawa. Additionally, Anderson served two assignments at the Pentagon, first as an advanced research and development planner and then as director of operational requirements.
Anderson retired from the Air Force in 1972.

In his career, Anderson has been decorated 25 times. Some of his awards include two Legions of Merit, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, 16 Air Medals, the Bronze Star and the French Croix De Guerre.

After retiring from the Air Force, Anderson joined McDonnell Aircraft. He worked for 12 years as an assistant manager and then manager of the company's flight test facility.
During his retirement, Anderson co-authored "To Fly and Fight: Memories of a Triple Ace" in 1990.

Due to Anderson's service as an "ace" fighter pilot, combat leader and jet age test pilot, he has earned a place in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Anderson now spends his days as an avid fisherman and hunter in the California foothills.

Though decorated in his career, Anderson is very humble and wants every Airman to
reach their full potential within their career.

"It is quite an honor to be an American Airmen, although in my day the organization had a different name. Regardless of the name, the values remain and the mission remains the same--to fly, fight and win," he said "I encourage every Airman to take pride in their country and what they represent. I want them to take their careers seriously and strive for the very best. If you are not going to give something you're very best shot the first time, then there is no point in doing it. You are all the future leaders of the United States Air Force, which means something."

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