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First AAF Ace of WWII

Lt. Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner, Commanding Officer of the 17th Pursuit Squadron in the Philippines, was the first AAF ace of World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Lt. Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner, Commanding Officer of the 17th Pursuit Squadron in the Philippines, was the first AAF ace of World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Lt. Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The exhibit includes Lt. Wagner's pre-WWII dress blouse and cap, which were donated by Maj. J. Ward Boyce. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Lt. Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The exhibit includes Lt. Wagner's pre-WWII dress blouse and cap, which were donated by Maj. J. Ward Boyce. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Lt. Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner, commanding officer of the 17th Pursuit Squadron in the Philippines, was the first AAF ace of World War II. Flying against overwhelming odds, he was one of the handful of American fighter pilots who engaged vastly superior numbers of Japanese aircraft as the enemy overran the Philippines. 

Flying a Curtiss P-40, he scored his first two victories on Dec. 12, 1941, and six days later, he shot down three more enemy fighters.

In April 1942 Wagner shot down three additional Japanese planes over New Guinea while flying a P-39 from Port Moresby. Although he wished to remain in combat, he was sent back to the United States where it was believed he would be of greater value in training new pilots. However, on Nov. 29, 1942, he crashed to his death on a routine flight from Eglin Field, Fla., to Maxwell Field, Ala.

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