South Side grad was ace fighter pilot

By Michelle L. Klampe of The News-Sentinel

During World War II, few war heroes were more prominent than Fort Wayne's Col. Walker M. "Bud" Mahurin. Mahurin, who shot down 21 planes in the European theater, was known as America's ace of aces.

Mahurin, a South Side High School graduate, was accepted into the Army Air Corps in 1941. He flew P-47 Thunderbolts out of England's Airport of Aces with a squadron of the most-decorated fliers of World War II. At first, he was less than successful. Newspaper accounts from the day said he flew nearly 30 missions before hitting anything.

Once he did, though, he became one of the hottest fighter pilots in the European theater. He consistently set records for the number of planes shot down, and three times he shot down three planes during a single mission. His efforts earned him celebrity status, garnering him an invitation to Buckingham Palace and write-ups in newspaper and magazine articles.

After shooting down his 21st plane, Mahurin was shot down March 24, 1944, over France. After six weeks in captivity, Mahurin escaped with the help of the French underground and returned to Fort Wayne, then headed to Florida, where he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. By November 1944, Mahurin was flying again, this time in the Pacific theater. As squad commander, he shot down two more planes before the war ended.

Mahurin later continued his career in the Korean War, flying jet fighters. He shot down three MiGs before he was shot down over enemy territory in 1952. After more than a year in captivity, Mahurin was released and returned to his home in California.

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