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Grave of Boyd D. Wagner.

Grave of USA's First WWII Air Ace

Field review by the editors.

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

The tall tombstone of Boyd D. Wagner announces that he was "First American Ace World War II." It's engraved with a portrait of a dashing young man with a Clark Gable mustache and leather flying helmet. Fifteen days after Pearl Harbor, Wagner's squadron took out 26 Japanese planes in the desperate fight for the Philippines, earning him the "ace" title as well as his nickname, Buzz, for his daring aerial approach. He was featured in Time magazine. Life magazine called him a "one-man air force." Hollywood announced that it would make a movie of his life.

The tombstone notes that Wagner "died in the service of his country" less than a year after Pearl Harbor. It was not as glorious as his combat exploits; Buzz crashed in his plane only 25 miles from an airport in Florida. It took searchers over a month to find the wreck, and when they did Buzz was pretty much gone; he had to be identified by the contents of his wallet. The movie never got made, but Buzz was honored with this fine gravestone.

Grave of USA's First WWII Air Ace

Grandview Cemetery

Johnstown, PA
Grandview Cemetery. Drive to end of cemetery entrance road. Turn right. Drive along road. Make seventh left (follow line of trees), then make fifth left (at tree traffic circle) -- the sharpest left possible. Drive up road. Grave will be on left, along road, maybe twenty graves up.
Gates open M-F 8-4, Sa 8-1 Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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In the region:
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