Wagner, Boyd David “Buzz” born 26-10-1916 in Emeigh, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, the first of two children and son of Boyd Mathew Wagner and Elizabeth Moody Wagner. Boyd grew up in Nanty-Glo, near Johnstown, and studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh for three years before joining the Army Air Corps. Boyd was the the first US Army Air Forces fighter pilot ace of World War II. Boyd completed flight training in June 1938 and was assigned to duty in the Philippines with the 24th Pursuit Group. He was soon given command of the 17th Pursuit Squadron . He was nicknamed “Buzz” because it was said he could buzz the camouflage off a hangar roof. Lieutenant Wagner was promoted to the rank of Captain, A.U.S., 30-01-1942. On 11-04-1942, Captain Wagner was again promoted, bypassing the rank of Major, to Lieutenant Colonel, A.U.S. He was assigned to the 8th Fighter Group in New Guinea. On 30-04-1942, while flying a Bell P-39 Airacobra, Wagner shot down another three enemy airplanes. In September 1942, Colonel Wagner was sent back to the United States to train new fighter pilots.
Death and burial ground of Wagner, Boyd David “Buzz”.
Wagner was a First Lieutenant commanding the 17th Pursuit Squadron stationed at Nichols Field on 08-12-1941 when the first Japanese air attacks struck the Phillipines. On December 12, Wagner took off in a Curtiss P-40 on a solo reconnaissance mission over Aparri, where he was attacked by Japanese Zero fighter planes. He dove away from the attacking planes and then returned and shot down two of them, bringing his total to eight air to air kills. He was attacked by more Zeros as he strafed a nearby Japanese airfield and subsequently destroyed two of these planes as well before returning to Clark Field. On a routine flight in a P-40K from Eglin Field, Florida to Maxwell Field, Alabama on 29-11-1942, age 26, Wagner’s plane disappeared. After an extensive search what was left of the P-40 and Wagner’s remains were found almost six weeks later in January 1943, 25 miles east of Eglin. The cause of the crash, if known, was never revealed. After the crash site was found, partial remains of Wagner were found, in 2008 and returned to Johnstown for burial. An estimated 15.000 to 20.000 mourners attended his funeral at Grandview Cemetery in January 1943. His awards include the Distinguished Service Cross Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross Medal and the Purple Heart Medal.
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