Personal effects recently recovered at Buzz Wagner's Florida crash site

Included is his Nanty Glo HS Class of '34 ring

Letter No. 339 | March 25, 2009

Several years ago I posted a note on the Nanty Glo Forum informing readers of my plans to write a book about Lt Col Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner, Emeigh [and Nanty Glo] resident and the first Army Air Corps ace of WWII. As a former Johnstown/Windber resident and Air Force pilot, I grew up hearing stories about Buzz. Unfortunately, I discovered his biography has never been written, so I've made it my mission to rectify that historical oversight. I am still in the research phase of the project, but wanted to tell Forum readers of a spectacular discovery.

In 2006, after two years of searching, I located the site of Buzz Wagner's fatal 1942 plane crash in Florida, lost to history for more than sixty years. Since then, I've journeyed to the site repeatedly in an attempt to find evidence that will explain why the ace came to such an early and violent demise. While exploring the site again last week, I discovered several personal effects belonging to Wagner that had been overlooked by the Army crash recovery team in January, 1943. Among the artifacts I recovered was Buzz Wagner's Nanty Glo High School ring! The ring is inscribed with the initials "BDW" and "1934," the year Wagner graduated.

The cover of the November, 2008, Johnstown Magazine depicts Buzz Wagner in a now famous picture taken in September, 1942, not long after he returned from combat duty in the Pacific. The Johnstown Tribune reissued that same photograph to newspaper subscribers in January, 1943, in memory of the departed ace. In that photograph, Wagner's high school ring is clearly visible and it's obviously the very same ring I recently found at the crash site.

I've been in contact with Lt Col Wagner's next of kin over the years and they've been very enthusiastic supporters of my research. I immediately informed them of my find and they were overjoyed at the news. They also completely endorse my proposal to rename the Johnstown-Cambria County Airport "Buzz Wagner Field" in honor of their famous relative. If and when that comes to pass, we hope to display our collection of Buzz Wagner memorabilia, including the artifacts I recently recovered, at the airport.

A reporter from the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat will cover this story in detail in an upcoming issue, but I wanted the folks in this Forum to be the first to hear this news about your hometown hero, Buzz Wagner. If any of you knew Buzz and have personal stories about him you'd like to share for publication in my book, please contact me via email at

Jim M

Update: The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat has additional information about Col. Mosgat's quest, here.

Feeback: Supports renaming airport

March 26, 2009

It would be of the highest honor to name the Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in honor of "Buzz Wagner." The current name of John Murtha is a disgrace for our County. God Speed! Former Vintondale resident.

William L. (Bill) George
Placerville, CA 95667


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