Major Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner

Boyd D. Wagner

major Boyd D. "Buzz" WagnerCaptain Boyd Wagner, a native of Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania, was Commander of the 17th Pursuit Squadron on December 8, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Clark Field, and became one of the first American pilots to engage the enemy in the air. Later in the month, he became the first American World War II ace when he downed his fifth Japanese aircraft.

While flying a reconnaissance mission out of Clark, Captain Wagner was jumped by two Japanese Zeroes over Northern Luzon. As a trained aeronautical engineer, he knew a great deal about the performance characteristics of the P-40, and used this knowledge to good advantage.

With the Zeroes in pursuit, Captain Wagner suddenly throttled back, letting the surprised enemy fly over his head. Then he poured machine gun bullets into their tails, Turning back, the young Captain strafed a Japanese airfield leaving five of the 12 aircraft on the runway in flames.

Wagner High School and Wagner Middle School were named for Captain Wagner, who offered Americans a rare "bright" spot in the otherwise bleak news they were receiving about the defense of the Philippines.


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