Alden Rigby

Alden Rigby was born in 1923 in Fairview Utah. He attended Brigham Young University before entering the Aviation Cadet program in 1943.

Rigby earned his wings in December 1943 at Spence Field, Georgia, and was assigned to P-51 training at Bartow, Florida in February 1944.

After briefly staying on as an instructor, Rigby requested and received an assignment to the 352nd Fighter Group at Bodney, England. His duties included dive-bombing, strafing and bomber escort. In December 1944, Rigby moved with the 352nd to Belgium to help fight in the Battle of the Bulge.

In January 1945, Rigby found himself involved in Operation Bodenplatte. The German operation included some 900 German aircraft assigned to hit 16 allied airfields simultaneously and has since been called the most devastating air-to-ground attack in World War II.

Rigby was the first plane in the air from his group and, after the struggle of just getting airborne, he found himself having to dodge ground fire, as well. Of the four enemy planes destroyed by Rigby that day, three were shot down after his gun sight failed.

After the battle, Rigby mistakenly claimed only ½ kills on two of the downed planes. And it wasn’t until September 2000 when the American Fighter Aces Association, using only 8th Air Force official documentation, awarded full kills to Rigby — as did the 352nd Fighter Group, making him their 29th Ace and easily the last Ace of WWII.

Rigby’s squadron was the first and only to receive the Presidential Citation. After WWII, Rigby was recalled for the Korean conflict and spent three years in the Air Defense Command in Kansas City with the added duty of flying Navy fighter aircraft.

He remained with the Utah Air National Guard and was also employed by the Federal Aviation Administration as an air traffic controller for 25 years. Rigby was recently elected to the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame.