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Bong file photo [10243]

Richard Bong

Given NameRichard
Born24 Sep 1920
Died6 Aug 1945
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseRichard Ira Bong was born in Superior, Wisconsin, United States to Swedish immigrants. He and his eight siblings grew up in Poplar, Wisconsin. He studied at the Superior State Teachers College starting in 1938; during that time, he enrolled in the Civilian Pilot Training Program and took private flying lessons. In 1941, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps Cadet Program. On 9 Jan 1942, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and given his wings. With the 49th Fighter Squadron of the 14th Fighter Group, he flew the P-38 Lightning aircraft. In Jun 1942, for flying very low over a residential home in San Anselmo, California and for flying in a loop around the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California (he had later denied the latter), he was reprimanded by General George Kenney and was grounded, but Kenney recognized Bong's love for flying, despite recklessness. In Jul 1942, he was transferred to the 84th Fighter Squadron of the 78th Fighter Group destined for the South Pacific. On 10 Sep 1942, he was transferred once again to the 9th Fighter Squadron of the 49th Fighter Group based in Darwin, Australia; while waiting for the delivery of the squadron's P-38 Lightning aircraft, he and his squadron mates flew aircraft belonging to 39th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group based in Port Moresby, New Guinea in order to gain combat experience. On 27 Dec 1942, during the Battle of Buna-Gona, he gained his first two kills by downing a Japanese A6M Zero fighter and a Ki-43 Hayabusa fighter; this action also earned him the Silver Star medal. In Mar 1943, with P-38 Lightning fighters delivered, he returned to his squadron, now based at Schwimmer Field near Port Moresby, New Guinea. On 26 Jul, he shot down four Japanese fighters over Lae, New Guinea, which action earned him the Distinguished Service Cross medal. Between Nov and Dec 1943, while on leave, he met Marge Vattendahl in Superior, Wisconsin and began courting her. In Jan 1944, upon returning to the front, he named his fighter "Marge" after his new sweetheart. In Apr 1944, he became the most victorious fighter American pilot when he scored his 27th kill. In Sep 1944, now at the rank of major, he returned to New Guinea on the staff of the V Fighter Command. During the Philippine campaign, he flew fighter missions out of Tacloban, Leyte, Philippine Islands, and his total kills increased to 40 by Dec 1944. In the same month, recommended by Kenney, Bong was awarded the Medal of Honor, presented by General Douglas MacArthur. His front line duties came to an end in Jan 1945 when he was sent back to the United States. He married Marge Vattendahl, assisted in the promotion of war bonds, and became a test pilot with Lockheed Corporation. On 6 Aug 1945, in North Hollywood, California, he tested a P-80A Shooting Star jet fighter whose primary fuel pump failed during takeoff. He ejected from the aircraft, but the low altitude meant his parachute was not to open before impact. The news of his death shared many front pages with American newspapers with the atomic detonation over Hiroshima, Japan. He was buried in Poplar, Wisconsin.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Jun 2010

Richard Bong Interactive Map


USAAF Major Richard Bong in his P-38 Lightning aircraft USAAF Major Richard Bong with his P-38 Lightning aircraft
See all 4 photographs of Richard Bong

Richard Bong Timeline

24 Sep 1920 Richard Bong was born.
5 Jul 1944 Lieutenant Colonel Francis Gabreski of US 56th Fighter Group became the top scoring USAAF ace in Europe with 28 victories, matching the score of Richard Bong flying in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
17 Dec 1944 In a P-38 Lightning aircraft, US ace Richard Ira Bong scored his 40th kill to become America's leading fighter ace of the war.
6 Aug 1945 Major Dick Bong, with 40 kills to his credit over the Pacific and his country's top scoring fighter ace of the war, and the holder of the Medal of Honor, was killed at the age of 24 when the Lockheed Shooting Star in which he was carrying out test flights stalled on takeoff and crashed in Burbank, California, United States.

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More on Richard Bong
Event(s) Participated:
» New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 3
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign

Richard Bong Photo Gallery
USAAF Major Richard Bong in his P-38 Lightning aircraft USAAF Major Richard Bong with his P-38 Lightning aircraft
See all 4 photographs of Richard Bong

Famous WW2 Quote
"I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil."

General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944

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