Korean War vet hurt during jet restoration

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Mike DuPre'
Monday, November 12, 2007
— As an aircraft electrician aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard, Bob Budd kept 18 F9F Panther jets flying during the Korean War.

His squadron, VF-72, didn’t lose a pilot or plane, though “some of ’em came back with holes in ’em,” Budd said.

During almost four years in the Navy working with electricity and heavy machinery—including six months on the carrier on both sides of the Korean peninsula—Budd was never hurt.

After the Korean War, Budd, 76, of Janesville worked as an electrician and engineering draftsman with the Fairbanks-Morse Locomotive Division in Beloit and Beloit Corp.

More heavy machinery. Still no injuries.

And as a member of VFW Post 1621 on Center Avenue in Janesville, Budd noticed that the F9F Panther on display there was “kind of sorry looking with birds sitting all over it.”

So he volunteered to clean it, plug holes to keep the birds out and repaint it—if he could deck it out with the markings of Squadron VF-72. The squadron flew air cover for ground troops.

Starting in May, Budd worked part-time on the project until Sept. 8.

“I was almost done trimming it out with white trim when I had my accident.”

As he painted, Budd fell about 8 feet from a bucket truck. He fractured three vertebrae and multiple ribs. After three weeks in the hospital, he still wears a hard torso brace.

Budd hopes to be free from what looks like body armor in about three weeks.

On Veterans Day Sunday, Budd, a member of VFW Post 1621’s Honor Guard, helped dedicate the post’s new flag pole, a donation from Rath Manufacturing.

The nearby Panther gleamed Navy blue and white.

“It’s beautiful in my eyes,” Budd said. “It looks like a jet that came out of VF-72. It looks like one of 18.”

Last updated: 11:05 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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