MCCLELLAN PARK, Calif. (KTXL) — It was another accolade for one of this nation’s most decorated fighter pilots as World War II triple ace Col. Clarence “Bud” Anderson officially opened a cafe Wednesday at McClellan Park.
Friends and admirers of Anderson were among the crowd at the opening of the Old Crow Cafe at the Aerospace Museum of California.
It’s named after Anderson’s P-51 Mustang fighter plane, which he piloted to 16 victories flying cover for bombers in WWII.
His exploits still draw attention but not by choice.
“They call it ‘the Greatest Generation,’ but I don’t know, I was just doing what I had to do,” he told FOX40.
Anderson grew up in the area and attended what is now Sacramento City College. He also worked as a junior mechanic at McClellan Air Force Base before becoming a pilot.
Autographing a book of his exploits and taking photos with fans is not something he has to do, but Anderson said he enjoys talking to those who make an effort to see him in person.
Carelton Liden was among the crowd Wednesday. He is about to enter the Air Force Academy and he said those who fought in the Second World War have his respect.
“It was a major conflict in the world and I really respect everyone who was a part of it,” Liden said. “It’s really cool to see the legacy of what I’m going to be a part of.”
Anderson, who was later a test pilot and flew bombing missions in Vietnam, likes to say “you can live your dreams.”
“I try to pass that onto young people. I like to tell people, ‘You can be what you want to be.’ It worked for me. I think I lived my dreams about four times,” he said with a laugh.
His last posting was at McClellan when he ended a 30-year career in the Air Force.
The cafe was the inspiration of museum super volunteer Kelly Kreeger who died last year.
“She loved him like a daughter and she wanted everybody to know what kind of man he was,” said Kreeger’s mother, Nancy Gill Inman.
Kreeger’s collection of Anderson memorabilia decorates the cafe.
“We’re just thrilled to be able to tell the story of Old Crow and Bud Anderson and have a place where people can come and meet and gather at our amazing museum,” said Tom Jones, the Aerospace Museum’s executive director.