|Walker Melville Mahurin|
December 5, 1918|
Benton Harbor, Michigan
|Died||May 11, 2010(aged 91)|
|Buried at||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch|| United States Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
|Years of service||1941 – 1956|
|Unit||56th Fighter Group (USAAF)|
|Commands held||3rd Air Commando Group
1st Fighter Group
4th Fighter-Interceptor Group
|Battles/wars||World War II
|Awards||Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal (5)
Colonel Walker Melville "Bud" Mahurin (December 5, 1918 – May 11, 2010) was a United States Air Force (USAF) officer and aviator. During World War II, while serving in the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), he became a noted flying ace.
Mahurin was the first American pilot to become a double ace in the European Theater. He was the only United States Air Force pilot to shoot down enemy planes in both the European and 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, 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. He graduated from pilot training on April 29, 1942.
World War II
Mahurin was assigned to the 63d Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group, and deployed to England with them in January 1943. Based at Halesworth, England, then Captain Mahurin became a flight leader in the 63rd FS and began flying missions in May.
The first aircraft he downed was his own P-47 fighter. On a mission, he decided to inch closer and closer to within feet of one of the B-24 bombers he was escorting. When he tried to pull away, the tail of his airplane was shredded by one of the B-24's propellers, forcing him to bail out.
On August 17, 1943, he scored his first 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. Mahurin 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. (The aircraft had been "bought" courtesy of war bonds purchased (to a value approximately equivalent to the cost of a fighter) by the citizens of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Consequently, the name painted on the aircraft was chosen by Atlantic City.)
Mahurin was promoted to major on March 21, 1944. On March 27, his 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. On the night of 3–4 May 1944, an RAF Westland Lysander attempted to retrieve Mahurin from France and fly him back to Britain. Before he could be picked up, the aircraft was shot down, and its pilot killed. The event was watched by Mahurin. The next attempt, again by a Lysander, on the night of May 6–7, was successful. Because of his knowledge of the French Resistance, he was grounded and sent home.
In October, he again shipped 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 destroying a Japanese bomber while flying a P-51 Mustang. Mahurin was promoted to lieutenant colonel on May 28, 1945, and became commander of the 3rd Air Commando Group in September 1945.
At the start of the Korean War in 1950, 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, Colonel Francis S. Gabreski. He was credited with destroying one MiG-15 while serving with 51st FIW. Mahurin transferred to the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing on March 18, 1952, to command its 4th Fighter-Interceptor Group. He was credited with destroying two more MiG-15s. He flew a F-86E named "Honest John" while serving with both the fighter groups in Korea.
Prisoner of war
On May 13, 1952, while strafing a truck, his F-86 was shot down by North Korean ground fire; after crash-landing and breaking his arm, he was captured by enemy forces. Mahurin spent 16 months in a North Korean prisoner of war (POW) camp. He endured torture that included intense questioning, solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, threats of execution, and brainwashing. While being questioned about claims of the United States' use of biological warfare, he admitted to dropping canisters of insects over North Korea. He was released in September 1953 and retracted his confession.
His experience in brainwashing techniques provided the U.S. 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 confessions. He was subsequently promoted to full colonel.
In 1956, Mahurin resigned from the U.S. Air Force to accept a senior position in the aviation industry. While the Air Force attributed this to his own choice, stating 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, four years short of becoming eligible for retirement benefits.
He married twice. His first marriage, to Patricia (nee Sweet), ended in a divorce. He was survived by his second wife, Joan (nee Gill), and two sons and a daughter from his first marriage.
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
- Air Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters
- Croix de Guerre with Palm (France)
- Croix de Guerre, with Palm (Belgium)
- Shapiro, T. Rees (May 14, 2010). "Walker M. "Bud" Mahurin, a top flying ace, dies at 91". The Washington Post.
- Childs, David (2010-06-10). "Colonel Bud Mahurin: Pilot who shot down enemies over both Europe and the Pacific in the Second World War and was a POW in Korea". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-06-12.
- Hugh Verity, We Landed by Moonlight, Crecy Publishing Ltd., 2000, pp. 167, 207, 230 ISBN 0947554 75 0
- Goldstein, Richard (May 15, 2010). "Bud Mahurin, Fighter Pilot in 2 Wars, Dies at 91". The New York Times.
- "Chapter 2: Aerial Combat". Robert W. Smith NF-104.com. Retrieved March 20, 2007.
- Frisbee, John. "Honest John", Air Force Magazine, February 1997
- Layton, Andrew. Wolverines in the Sky: Michigan's Fighter Aces of WWI, WWII and Korea (2005), Virtualbookworm Publishing.