Bud Mahurin was always photographed with a big smile on
his face, especially in his early WWII photographs. He couldn't have known
that he was one of few US fliers who would be shot down in two different
As an outstanding young flier with the famed 56th
Fighter Group in World War Two, he flew over Nazi-occupied Europe, downing
19.75 German airplanes, and later, in the Pacific, he downed 1 Japanese
His career as a fighter pilot almost ended before it
started, in August 1943, when he destroyed his P-47 while horsing around
with a B-24. He flew too close, and the bomber 's propeller chewed up his
Thunderbolt's tail. Mahurin managed to bail out, and he got off with no
more than a $100 fine and a tongue-lashing from CO Hub Zemke. A few days
later, he shot down his first German plane, an Fw-190. Flying a war bond
subscription plane "SPIRIT OF ATLANTIC CITY, NJ," he scored again on
September 9, and on October 4, he shot down three Bf-110s to make ace.
He became the Eighth Air Force's first double ace (10
victories) on November 26, in a raid over Bremen. As the Bf-110s came
after the B-17s and B-24s, Mahurin and the rest of the 56th waded in. He
get right behind his first victim, shooting off the plane's wing and
probably touching off its aerial rockets in the process. As the B-17
gunners blasted away at anything that came too close, including American
P-47s, Mahurin avoided their 'friendly' fire and found a second Bf-110,
which he sent flaming to the ground. His third target tried the Germans'
favourite, but least effective, evasive tactic - diving away. Virtually no
other plane in the sky could out-dive the 'Seven Ton Milk Jug', and
Mahurin caught and destroyed his third target down at 14,000 feet.
In March, 1944, he shared credit for destruction of a
Do-217 bomber over Tours, but was shot down himself. He evaded capture,
and made his way back to England in May. To protect the Resistance
fighters, ETO rules forbade evades from flying combat in Europe. So
Mahurin went to the Pacific, as CO of the 3rd Air Commando Group, and
scored the last of his WWII kills there, flying P-51 Mustangs.
He stayed in the military after WWII, and was working
in the Pentagon for the Secretary of the Air Force when the Korean War
broke out. He quickly "got up to speed in jets," and went to Korea. He
began working for Gabby Gabreski in the 51st FIW. In 1952 he was captured
and tortured by the Chinese Communists.