Bud Mahurin: Wikis


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Walker Melville Mahurin
Born December 5, 1918 (1918-12-05) (age 91)
Capt. Bud Mahurin (left) shaking hands with fellow ace Maj. Walter Beckham, 353rd FG (right), in front of a P-47 Thunderbolt.
Nickname "Bud"
Place of birth Benton Harbor, Michigan
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the US Air Force.svg United States Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Years of service 1941 – 1956
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Unit 56th Fighter Group (USAAF)
Commands held 3rd Air Commando Group
1st Fighter Group
4th Fighter-Interceptor Group
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross
Purple Heart
Air Medal (5)

Colonel Walker Melville 'Bud' Mahurin (born December 5, 1918, Benton Harbor, Michigan) is a retired officer of the United States Air Force (USAF). During World War II, while serving in the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), he was a notable flying ace.

Bud Mahurin was the first American pilot to become a double ace in the European Theater and the only ace to shoot down enemy planes in both the European & Pacific Theaters and the Korean War. During World War II he was credited with 20.75 aerial victories, making him the sixth-highest American P-47 ace. He was credited with shooting down 3.5 MiG-15s in Korea, giving him a total of 24.25 aircraft destroyed in aerial combat.



Born in Benton Harbor, Michigan, on December 5, 1918, Mahurin joined the U.S. Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet on September 29, 1941 after several years as an engineering student at Purdue University. Graduating from pilot training on April 29, 1942, he was subsequently assigned to the 63d Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group and deployed to England with the group in January 1943. Based at Halesworth, England, Captain Mahurin became a flight leader in the 63rd FS and began flying missions in May.

On August 17, 1943, he scored his first two aerial victories by shooting down a pair of German Focke-Wulf Fw 190s while escorting B-17 bombers as part of the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission. One of these fighters was flown by Major Wilhelm 'Wutz' Galland, Gruppenkommandeur of II/JG 26, and an ace with some 55 claims to his credit. He became an ace on October 4 after shooting down three Messerschmitt Bf110s. On November 26, Mahurin shot down three more Bf-110s to become the first American pilot in the European Theater of Operations to score 10 aerial victories. His primary aircraft, P-47D-5-RE 42-8487, bore the squadron codes UN:M and was nicknamed The Spirit of Atlantic City, N.J.

Mahurin was promoted to major on [March 21, 1944, and on March 27, Major Mahurin's P-47 was heavily damaged by a German Dornier Do-217 bomber he helped shoot down, forcing him to bail out. He was picked up by French Resistance forces and, two months later, returned to England. Due to his knowledge of the French Resistance, he was grounded and sent home.

In October, he again went overseas as commander of the 3rd Fighter Squadron, the combat element of the composite 3rd Air Commando Group in the Philippines. While based at Mangaldan, Luzon, in January 1945 he was credited with a kill of a Japanese bomber. Mahurin was promoted to lieutenant colonel on May 28, 1945 and became commander of the 3rd Air Commando Group in September 1945.

In 1950, at the start of the Korean War, Mahurin was serving in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. In July 1951 he became commander of the 1st Fighter Group, training in the North American F-86 Sabre. In December he began a 90-day tour of temporary duty with the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, serving as special assistant to the wing commander, Col. Francis S. Gabreski. Mahurin transferred to the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing on March 18, 1952, to command its 4th Fighter-Interceptor Group. On May 13, 1952, while strafing ground targets, his F-86 was shot down by North Korean ground fire; after crash-landing, breaking his arm in the process, he was captured by enemy forces.

Mahurin spent 16 months in a North Korean POW camp. He endured torture that included intense questioning, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, threats of execution, and brainwashing. While being questioned about false claims of the United States' use of biological warfare, he falsely admitted to dropping canisters of insects over North Korea. He was later released in September 1953, well after the war's end, and promoted to full Colonel. His experience in brainwashing techniques provided the US with invaluable material to develop survival training courses. Nevertheless, he and other returning POWs were condemned by Senator Richard Russell, Jr. and others because of their false confessions.

In 1956, Mahurin retired from the US Air Force to accept a senior position in the aviation industry. While the Air Force attributes this to his own choice, stating that he was low on the promotion list to permanent colonel and unlikely to make general, a pilot under his command in Korea, Robert Smith, asserts that the Air Force dishonored itself by pressuring Mahurin to resign from the service as a result of political infighting over the confessions, just four years short of becoming eligible for retirement benefits.[1]

Aerial victory credits

Date # Type Location Aircraft flown Unit Assigned
August 17, 1943 2 Fw 190 Liège, Belgium P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
September 9, 1943 1 Fw 190 Beauvais, France P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
October 4, 1943 3 Bf 110 Düren, Germany P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
November 3, 1943 0.5 Bf 109 Esens, Germany P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
November 3, 1943 1 Bf 110 Juist, East Frisian Islands P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
November 26, 1943 3 Bf 110 Oldenburg, Germany P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
November 29, 1943 1 Bf 109 Papenburg, Germany P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
December 22, 1943 2 Bf 109 Hesepe, Germany P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
January 30, 1944 1 Ju 88 Quakenbrück, Germany P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
February 3, 1944 1 Bf 109 Ruhletwist, Germany P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
March 6, 1944 1 Fw 190 Wesendorf, Germany P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
March 8, 1944 2 Fw 190 Wesendorf, Germany P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
March 8, 1944 1 Ju 88 Wesendorf, Germany P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
March 27, 1944 0.25 Do 217 Chartres, France P-47D 63 FS, 56 FG
January 14, 1945 1 Ki-46 Dinah Luzon, Philippines P-51D 3 FS, 3 ACG
January 6, 1952 1 MiG 15 North Korea F-86E 51 FIW
February 17, 1952 1 MiG 15 North Korea F-86E 25 FIS, 51 FIW
March 5, 1952 1.5 MiG 15 North Korea F-86E 25 FIS, 51 FIW
SOURCES: Air Force Historical Study 85: USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II and Air Force Historical Study 81: USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, Korean War, Freeman, The Mighty Eighth

Awards and decorations

COMMAND PILOT WINGS.png  Command pilot


  1. ^ "Chapter 2: Aerial Combat". Robert W. Smith NF-104.com. http://www.nf104.com/ab/ch_2/ii.html. Retrieved March 20, 2007. 




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