EAA AirVenture honors World War II ace

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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Each summer, EAA AirVenture shows off planes of every imaginable -- and some unimaginable -- shape, size and model.

WWII triple ace Clarence "Bud" Anderson on the wing of his P-51 Mustang "Old Crow" (public domain photo)

But beyond bringing aircraft enthusiasts together, a lot of this year's convention is also about honoring the men and women who flew in the military.

One veteran whose record of service is so impressive received a moment of recognition during this year's AirVenture in Oshkosh. Warbirds were part of a special flight to honor World War II ace Clarence "Bud" Anderson.

"I can't describe the feeling," Anderson reacted to the honor.

Bud, even with his impressive 16 and a quarter aerial victories during World War II, was surprised -- "A little overwhelmed," he said -- to learn he'd be saluted during a Warbirds flight at AirVenture, especially when two P-51 Mustangs were marked up just for him.

"Any World War II pilot would give a body part to have their airplane painted like they flew in the war," he said.

But the planes and the salute are just a part of the recognition Bud is receiving for his 30 years of service.

People often ask the 97-year-old ace for autographs and photos, too.

Bud's son, Jim Anderson, said, "A wife of a celebrity said, 'What was it like growing up the son of a celebrity?' I said he wasn't a celebrity, he's just my dad!"

Despite being "just his dad," Jim Anderson says the whole family is proud of Bud's service. Jim hopes to see Bud carry on for many years to come.

"He's very, very blessed, you know? Real lucky guy," Bud's son said.

Bud didn't really imagine where he'd end up while serving in World War II.

"We were worried about just getting through that day," he remarked. "I had no thoughts of 25, 30 years what I'd be doing."

But he's honored by the recognition he receives now.

"It's very humbling, and it gets me right here by the D-ring," he said, pointing to a ring on his flight suit over his heart.

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