Major Henry "Bud" Wildfang, U.S. Marine Corps, was born 17 May 1916 in Bismarck, North Dakota. He attended the University of North Dakota for three years when World War II interrupted his studies. On 9 May 1941 he was accepted into the U.S. Naval Aviation Program and 16 April 1942 was commissioned a second lieutenant with Naval Aviator designation.
He flew photo missions during World War II and was ordered to the South Pacific for a second tour when the war ended. He was released from active duty in 1946. Three months later he returned to active duty a master sergeant. He served two tours in the Vietnam War and participated in supply operations into Khe Sanh Combat Base during the 1968 Tet Offensive.
On 10 February 1968, while making his approach onto the Khe Sanh landing strip, with a cargo of filled fuel cells, his aircraft came under blistering enemy automatic small arms fire that punctured the fuel cells. He successfully landed the plane onto the runway, however, it exploded killing three crew members and four passengers. He was wounded, hospitalized, recovered and completed his combat tour.
In 1978 he was awarded the prestigious Navy and Marine Corps Gray Eagle Award and is a three-year holder of the Silver Hawk Award, a designation for the senior Marine Aviator on active duty.
His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with four Gold Stars, Purple Heart, 29 Air Medals and Navy Commendation Medal. He retired in 1978 and in 1979 made his home in Midwest City, Oklahoma.