Congressional Gold Medal glow shines on Auburn fighter ace

WWII triple-ace Bud Anderson honored at American Air Aces award ceremony
By: Gus Thomson of the Auburn Journal
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Honors – collectively as well as singly – continue to come Auburn’s air ace Bud Anderson’s way.

Anderson, who was designated a triple ace for credit to shooting down 16 planes on his own and gaining a further quarter credit on a 17th as a pilot during World War II in Europe, was part of the American Fighter Aces group awarded the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony last week in Washington, D.C.

Anderson was in the front row for a ceremony May 20 that honored an exclusive club in American history, with fewer than 1,500 pilots awarded the recognition of shooting down five or more enemy aircraft.

“I feel very humbled to receive the highest award Congress can give,” Anderson said. “It was an outstanding event.”

The solid-gold medal awarded to the American Fighter Aces is being displayed at the National Air and Space Museum, with plans for display at the organization’s home base at the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle, Wash.

Like other fighter aces at the ceremony, Anderson received a bronze replica of the medal.

Speaker of the House John Boehner spoke at the ceremony unveiling and awarding the gold medal, which features images of fighter pilots and airplanes from major conflicts and wars. He singled out Lt. Carl Rieman, who was “a fiery, competitive guy – loved to fly and loved his country.”  

“This medal is for Carl and all the other American Fighter Aces who fought bravely on behalf of a grateful nation,” Boehner said.

Anderson, 93, grew up in Newcastle and graduated from Placer High School. Earlier this month, a statue of Anderson and his fighter plane Old Crow was dedicated at the Auburn Municipal Airport.

Anderson was decorated 25 times in a U.S. Air Force career that included 116 missions over Europe and service in Korea and Vietnam. He also recently had a street named after him at the airport.

Of more than 60,000 pilots who have flown for the U.S. military, 1,442 have qualified as aces. The presentation ceremony in Washington to the aces group came a year after the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to mint a medal – the nation’s highest civilian honor – for the ace fighter pilots.