By Tony Lopez

AUBURN  (CBS13) — It was a day for handshakes and high spirits in the city of Auburn, but this Veterans Day became one to remember for a 97-year-old war hero and his new 10-year-old friend.

Blake McReynolds and Bud Anderson at the Auburn Veterans Day Parade.

On a day when being loud and proud was certainly in order, it was a quiet conversation that caught our eye. For 10-year-old Blake McRenyolds of Newcastle, this will be a Veterans Day he won’t soon forget — a day he met his hero.

“Well I’ve always wanted to be a pilot, but he makes me want to be a pilot more of a P-51,” Blake said.

That hero is Bud Anderson, who is considered to be one of the greatest combat pilots the world has ever seen. He completed 116 missions, two separate tours, and was the highest-scoring flying ace in his P-51 Mustang squadron. But Blake already knew that that’s why this was a conversation from the heart.

Blake also had something else, that he and his buddies could not be more proud to fly, or roll, down the streets of Auburn.

“It’s a P-51, and it means a lot because it resembles Bud Anderson’s P-51,” Blake said.

Everything “meant a lot” on this day. There were heartfelt pats on the back and hearty laughter. Good humor from great men and life-shaping advice for Blake, and everyone else who cares to listen to those whose footprints in the fight for freedom are still etched in the very soil of America.


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