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P-40 Ace Buzz Wagner Disappeared 65 Years Ago Today
Thu Nov 29, 2007 11:05 (XFF:

Lt Col Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner, the USAAC's first WWII ace, disappeared while piloting a P-40K from Eglin Field, FL, to Maxwell Field, AL, 65 years ago today. Though Wagner's remains and crumpled aircraft were not found until Jan 1943, he in fact perished on 29 Nov 42 when his aircraft plummeted to earth about 25 miles east of Eglin. The cause of the crash was never revealed and America tragically lost one of her first wartime heroes.

1Lt Buzz Wagner commanded the 17th Pursuit Pursuit Squadron at Nichols Field, PI, when the Japanese attacked on 8 Dec 41. In the following days, Buzz destroyed 5 Japanese aircraft in aerial combat and countless more on the ground, all while piloting a P-40. Grounded after he received glass in his eyes during a dogfight with enemy aircraft, Buzz was evacuated to Australia where he became the Chief of Pursuit Aviation for Fifth Air Force. In that capacity he trained newly arrived pursuit units for combat. Leading one fledgling P-39 unit on their first combat mission out of New Guinea, Buzz downed 3 more Japanese aircraft. He rotated back to the US in Sep 42 with a total of 8 kills to his credit. At the time of his death, Buzz was working special projects for Gen Hap Arnold and had been assigned to the Curtiss P-40 plant in Buffalo, New York, to help engineers improve the P-40's combat performance.

Wagner's complete story has never been told and I hope to fill that gap in USAF history by writing his biography. I have four years of research under my belt and have a few more gaps to fill in before I actually start writing. If anyone has information on Buzz or knew him personally, please contact me at the email address indicated.

Buzz Wagner was an extraordinary pilot, a stellar officer/commander, and a charismatic, out-in-front leader. Though his meteoric career was cut short 65 years ago today, his legacy will live on. Please help me tell his story to new generations of Americans. Thanks.

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