Last of America’s Triple Aces GONE!

It seems that the greatest generation has lost another one of its heroes. Brig. Gen. Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson, the last of America’s World War II triple aces, has finally hung up his wings and taken his final flight. And where did this remarkable journey come to an end? In the peaceful comfort of his own bed, of course. I guess when you’ve spent your life dodging bullets and battling Nazis, a quiet passing in your sleep is the ultimate luxury.

Now, let’s take a moment to reflect on the incredible life of this American legend. Born in Oakland, California, in 1922, Anderson wasted no time in answering the call of duty. As soon as those dastardly Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he practically sprinted to the Army’s air wing, eager to give the Axis powers a taste of American firepower.

And boy, did he deliver! Anderson flew an astonishing 116 combat missions, shooting down 16 German planes along the way. That’s right, folks, he single-handedly sent 16 Nazi pilots to meet their maker. I guess you could say he was the ultimate party pooper for the Third Reich.

But Anderson wasn’t content with just being a regular ace. Oh no, he had to go and become a “triple ace,” a title reserved for pilots who have shot down at least 15 enemy aircraft. It’s like the aviation equivalent of a hat trick, but instead of scoring goals, you’re sending enemy planes spiraling to the ground in flames.

Throughout his illustrious 30-year military career, Anderson logged an incredible 7,500 hours in the air, piloting 130 different types of aircraft. That’s like spending almost an entire year of your life in the cockpit! And when he wasn’t busy shooting down Nazis or testing new planes, he found time to rack up an impressive collection of medals and citations. Sixteen Air Medals, two Legion of Merit citations, the Bronze Star, and five Distinguished Flying Crosses – it’s like he was playing a real-life game of “Medal Bingo.”

But perhaps the most impressive thing about Anderson was his humble nature. Despite his numerous accolades and accomplishments, he remained a down-to-earth, no-nonsense kind of guy. Even when he was promoted to the honorary rank of brigadier general at the ripe old age of 100, he took it all in stride. I guess when you’ve spent your life staring death in the face, a little thing like a promotion is just icing on the cake.

And let’s not forget the words of Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., who described Anderson as “kind of a wrecking ball of a guy.” I don’t know about you, but I think that’s the ultimate compliment for a fighter pilot. It’s like saying, “Hey, you’re really good at destroying things and striking fear into the hearts of your enemies. Keep up the good work!”

So, as we bid farewell to Brig. Gen. Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson, let us remember him not just as a hero, but as a shining example of the American spirit. He was a man who answered the call of duty, faced unimaginable dangers, and came out on top. He may have been a “wrecking ball of a guy,” but he was our wrecking ball, and we’re damn proud of him.

Rest in peace, Bud. You’ve earned your place in the great big hangar in the sky.