Abner Aust was born on October 7, 1921, in Scooba, Mississippi. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on June 23, 1942, and went on active duty to begin pilot training on July 10, 1942. Aust was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Luke Field, Arizona, on April 12, 1943, and then served as an instructor pilot at Venice, Florida, until he joined the 457th Fighter Squadron of the 506th Fighter Group as a P-51 Mustang pilot at Lakeland Army Air Field, Florida, in October 1944. Captain Aust deployed with his unit to Tinian in February, and to Iwo Jima in March 1945, and was credited with the destruction of 5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus 3 more on the ground while strafing enemy airfields, before the war ended; his 4th and 5th air victories occurring on August 10, 1945, making him the last American Ace of World War II. He returned to the United States in September 1945, and served as a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot and an Aircraft Maintenance Officer in the 22nd Fighter Squadron in the Panama Canal Zone from May 1946 to December 1948. Major Aust served as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer and F-84 Thunderjet pilot with the 79th Fighter-Bomber Squadron and the 20th Fighter-Bomber Group at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, from April 1949 to November 1951, and then as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer with Military Assistance Advisory Group Denmark from December 1951 to July 1954. He next attended Command and Staff School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from August 1954 to July 1955, followed by service as an F-84 Thunderstreak pilot, Operations Staff Officer, Director of Training, and then Deputy Director of Operations with Headquarters 12th Strategic Fighter Wing at Bergstrom AFB, Texas, from July 1955 to November 1957. Lt Col Aust served as an F-100 Super Sabre and Liaison Officer with Air Proving Ground Command at Eglin AFB, Florida, from November 1957 to March 1959, and then as Chief of the Operations Test and Evaluation Division with Headquarters Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia, from March 1959 to May 1961. His next assignment was as Special Assistant to the Director of Training, Officer in Charge of the Tactical Systems Division, and then Deputy Director to the Director of Training for Headquarters Pacific Air Command at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, from May 1961 to September 1963. Colonel Aust then served as Deputy Commander and then Commander of the 6002nd Standardization Evalution Group at Kadena AB, Okinawa, from September 1963 to June 1965, followed by service as an F-4 Phantom II pilot, Director of Operations, and then Deputy Commander for Operations with the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) at Eglin AFB, Florida, from June 1965 to February 1967. He served as Vice Commander of the 33rd TFW at Eglin from February 1967 to January 1968, with a brief period as Commander from May to June 1967. Colonel Aust served as an F-4 pilot and Vice Commander of the 366th TFW at DaNang AB, South Vietnam from January to May 1968, and then as an F-100 pilot and Commander of the 31st TFW at Tuy Hoa AB, South Vietnam, from May 1968 to February 1969. His next assignment was as Chief of the Tactical Division at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon from March 1969 to September 1970, and then as Vice Commander of the 314th Air Division at Osan AB, South Korea, from September 1970 to March 1971. His next assignment was as Commander of the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Kunsan AB, South Korea, from March to November 1971, and finally as Special Assistant to the Commander of the 31st Combat Support Group at Homestead AFB, Florida, from December 1971 until his retirement from the Air Force on July 1, 1972.
His Legion of Merit Citation reads:
Colonel Abner M. Aust Jr. distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the United States as Commander, 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, Tuy Hoa Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, from 1 May 1968 to 6 February 1969. In his assignment as commander of the largest F-100 wing in Vietnam, Colonel Aust demonstrated outstanding leadership, exemplary foresight and untiring devotion to his many duties and responsibilities. The ceaseless efforts consistently put forth by Colonel Aust resulted in significant contributions to the morale and welfare of the men of Tuy Hoa AB. The superior programs he developed to manage Operations, Material and support activities greatly increased the effectiveness of his wing. His personal valor and leadership contributed to combating aggression throughout Southeast Asia. The initiative, outstanding leadership and personal endeavor displayed by Colonel Aust reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.