Richard Bong

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Richard Bong

Richard Ira “Dick” Bong (Poplar, Wisconsin, September 24, 1920 – Burbank, California August 6, 1945), was a fighter pilot of the USAF that reached the rank of Major and ace fighter with 40 Japanese aircraft shot down in the Pacific War during World War II and decorated with the Medal of Honor.

Richard_Bong’s Biography

Richard Ira Bong was born in the small town of Poplar in Wisconsin, his parents were immigrants of Swedish origin who established a farm in El Álamo.

Dick was the oldest of nine siblings and grew up in the typical farm environment, hunting and fishing. He became addicted to aeromodelist model making numerous models of airplanes of the First World War and developed great fondness for aviation.

He joined the Superior State Teachers College in 1938, and while there he enrolled in a training course for civilian pilot, also taking private flight lessons. He met at a party his girlfriend Marjorie “Marge” Vattendahl who in the future would be his muse and wife.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the air corps of the army and obtained his wings in January 1942, in May he was transferred to Hamilton Field in Arizona as a flight instructor.

The Bong P-38 called “Marge”.

That’s where he became familiar with the new P-38 Lightning twin-engine fighter and became a skilled pilot of this fighter. On one occasion, Bong flew under the Golden Gate Bridge to impress his girlfriend and was reprimanded by General George C. Kenney for breaking the rules. His group left for England in July 1942 and he was not included in the destination because he was sanctioned and prevented from flying.

The high command had other plans for him and was then assigned to the Pacific Front, as part of the 48th. hunting squadron, 78 avo.group based in Darwin, Australia and flew on reconnaissance missions and then on combat missions gaining experience in the classic “hit and run” maneuver.

On December 27 of that year, he managed to knock down a Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar and a Zero.

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At the beginning of 1943, Bong on a permit, engaged with his girlfriend Marge and had his graduation picture painted on the nose of his P-38, number 2103993, which makes his combat aircraft distinctive, calling him Marge. / p>

In March 1943 he was transferred to Schwimmer Field based in Port Moresby, New Guinea assimilating to the 9th. combat squadron, 49th combat group, at this stage, Bong demolished successively 6 enemy aircraft and on July 26, 1943, Bong shot down 4 more enemy planes, completing ten confirmed takedowns, for these actions he is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and he was recognized by his superiors as an extraordinary innate pilot of instinctive flight.

In August he was promoted to captain and in April 1944, Bong recorded his 27th accredited takedown which made him ace of aces from the United States, surpassing the record of Eddie Rickenbacker of World War I and was ascended to him To the degree of major, the High Command decided to take advantage of their experience and send it home, but Bong delayed the fulfillment of the order until completing his 40th demolition and adding 500 hours of combat. In December of 1944, Bong was decorated with the Medal of Honor of the Congress by the same general Douglas MacArthur. He was received in January 1945 in his homeland as a decorated Ace and combat hero On February 10, 1945, Bong was finally married to his girlfriend Marge Vattendahl before the media presence of journalists from around the world and 1,200 guests. / p>

Bong was assimilated to the Army Technical Command in Burbank, California and tested Lockheed aircraft as a test pilot, specifically to evaluate the P-80 Shooting Star, the first fighter jet fighter of the USAF.

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