Gathering of Eagles Foundation

Honored as an Eagle in:

1987 1989 1992 1997 2014

Eagle Biography

Clarence E. Anderson

Colonel Clarence E. "Bud" Anderson is a World War II triple ace with 16 1/4 air victories over Europe. Anderson was born in Oakland, California, and learned to fly in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, receiving his private 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 on 29 September 1942. Originally assigned to the 328th Fighter Group, Anderson 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 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 on a raid to 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 1 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 in October 1944 and went on to become the leading ace of the 363d Fighter Squadron. After the war, Anderson returned to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, where he became a test pilot.

He flew over 90 different types of aircraft, testing many of the innovations that have become standard equipment on today's tactical aircraft. Eventually, he became 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 Thunderchief in bombing strikes against North Vietnamese supply lines. During 30 years of distinguished military service, Anderson accumulated over 6,700 flying hours. Following military retirement in 1972, he joined the McDonnell Douglas Corporation and continued test and evaluation at Edwards AFB.

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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.

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