By Eric Allen

An historic meeting of two WWII P-51 Mustang pilots took place on March 12th in Auburn, California. Triple-ace Brigadier General C.E. “Bud” Anderson USAF (Ret.) (102 years old) hosted Colonel Joe Peterburs USAF (Ret.) (99 years old) for an afternoon of sharing historic flying stories. Most readers are familiar with Gen. Anderson’s story and significant military background: he is the only living triple-ace, with 16 1⁄4 aerial victories, and served in Korea and Southeast Asia as well as having a significant test pilot career before retiring with 30 years of military service. Col. Peterburs’ story and background may not be as well known.

Triple-ace Brigadier General C.E. “Bud” Anderson (right) hosted Colonel Joe Peterburs for an afternoon of reminiscing. [Photo by Eric Allen]

During the spring of 1945, Col. Peterburs was flying on a Boeing B-17 escort mission near Berlin when he shot down a Messerschmitt Me 262 turbojet. After shooting down the jet he was taking care of some targets of opportunity in the area and his North American P-51 Mustang Josephine was hit with ground fire that caused enough damage that he was forced to bail out at a low level. The Colonel survived the bailout but was captured and immediately became a POW. He promptly escaped and joined up with a Russian tank group, fighting alongside them until reunited with American Forces. Col. Peterburs went on to fly Mustangs during the Korean War and following, he transitioned to the H-model Mustang and Lockheed F-80 and T-33 jets. He would then go on to hold various command and staff positions both in Europe and stateside before retiring with over 36 years of military service.


A wartime photo of Colonel Joe Peterburs. [Photo via Eric Allen]

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The conversations were exciting as most can imagine. The two Mustang pilots shared stories of how they operated their planes during wartime missions. Both pilots recalled their knowhow of Mustang flight operations as if they had just climbed out of the cockpit. Although they served in different areas they shared many of the same tricks of the trade to get the most out of their machines. A few war stories were shared between the two veterans that were enjoyed by the small group gathered that afternoon. Both men spoke fondly about their ground crews and acknowledged the big role the ground crews played in their success as pilots. Col Peterburs’ granddaughter Sabrina and Gen. Anderson’s son Jimmy were in attendance along with a few close friends of both gentlemen.

[Photo by Eric Allen]

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