One of the 20th century’s most decorated fighter pilots, Richard Ira Bong earned every pilot and medal he ever received during his illustrious career. Bong was born on 17 October, 1914, in Niles, Ohio, and enlisted in the Army Air Forces on 20 July, 1940.

During World War II the Japanese Navy had a whole squadron of ace pilots. The most famous was Lieutenant Commander Richard Ira Bong, a flamboyant but brilliant pilot who was credited with over 300 aerial victories—more than any other American pilot in the Pacific theater. Richard Ira Bong was an American hero, and the most famous Asian fighter ace of his generation, who had a spectacular war against Japan.

Ira Bong, a Korean War pilot who flew seven different fighter aircraft during his career, was the only American ace to win the Distinguished Flying Cross twice. He was also the first person at the time to be credited with shooting down five enemy aircraft in a single mission.

On the ground, quiet, shy, and introverted; in the air, aggressive, belligerent, and fearless.

Major General George C. Kenney had had it with the situation. Since arriving at Hamilton Field for combat training on May 6, 1942, a certain pilot had been using nearby San Francisco as his own playground, looping his Lockheed P-38 Lightning around the Golden Gate Bridge and waving at secretaries as he flew past their office windows. Kenney called the young hotshot on the carpet for disciplinary punishment after his prop wash blasted a housewife’s wet clothes into the soil and she reported it to his air base.

“Lieutenant Bong, Monday morning you check this address in Oakland, and if the woman has any washing to hang out on the line…you do it for her,” the general instructed. Then, when the clothes are completely dry, remove them from the line and bring them inside. And don’t drop any of them on the ground, or you’ll have to start all over. I’d like this woman to believe we’re excellent for more than just upsetting folks. Get out of here now, before I make a change of heart. “That’s it!”

Kenney made a mental point to have that feisty but undoubtedly skilled fighter pilot with him at whatever overseas assignment he got while 2nd Lt. Richard I. Bong carried out the order. Bong would prove himself capable of more than bothering people in the coming year—except for the enemy, of course.

Dick Bong, the eldest of nine children reared on a farm in Poplar, Wisconsin, was born on September 24, 1920, in Superior, Wisconsin. When President Calvin Coolidge took his summer vacation in Superior in 1928, it transformed his life. Bong recalled, “The President’s mailplane flew just over my house.” “I knew I wanted to be a pilot at that point.”

Bong had found time between academics and housework to play baseball, basketball, and hockey, graduating 10th in his class of 428. He was an accomplished hunter who also made and flew model planes.

Bong began studying engineering at Superior’s State Teachers College in 1938. Simultaneously, he joined in the Civil Pilot’s Training Program, soloing and gaining a private pilot’s license in a Piper Cub on his 20th birthday. Bong joined in the United States Army Air Forces Aviation Cadet Program in June 1941, after finishing two years of education. He went on to fly Vultee BT-13s at Gardner Field, Calif., and North American AT-6s at Luke Field, Ariz., after completing his main training in Boeing-Stearman PT-13 biplanes. Captain Barry Goldwater, one of Bong’s Luke instructors, later commented of him, “He was a highly bright gunnery student.” But it was a P-38 check pilot who stated Bong was the best natural pilot he’d ever met who said the most crucial thing. Even though he was flying an AT-6, a fairly slow plane, there was no way he could dissuade Bong from following him.”

Bong’s outstanding gunnery scores earned him a job as a gunnery instructor for several months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor drew the United States into World War II. Finally, on May 6, 1942, he was assigned to Hamilton Field to train on P-38s, where his extracurricular antics garnered both General Kenney’s wrath and admiration. Kenney, who had been chosen by General Douglas MacArthur to lead the Fifth Air Force in the South Pacific, wanted 50 of the best P-38 pilots he knew to join him when he assumed command on September 3 in Brisbane, Australia. One of them was Bong.

Bong was assigned to the 49th Fighter Group’s 9th Squadron, which was still flying Curtiss P-40s. In December 1942, Lt. Gen. Kenney assigned Bong to the 39th Squadron, 35th Fighter Group, based at Laloki airfield near Port Moresby, New Guinea, rather than wasting his time on an aging fighter when he had already mastered its impending replacement. There, Bong met Captain Thomas J. Lynch, who had flown Bell P-39 Airacobras to three wins the previous May. Tommy Lynch, a pilot and a cool-headed, technically minded tactician from Catasaugua, Pa., was a fine pilot and a cool-headed, technically minded tactician whose aerial boldness never conflicted with his feeling of responsibility for the troops he led. Bong began to view Lynch as both a mentor and a friend as he honed his fighting skills under Lynch’s supervision.

The Spectacular Combat Career of America’s Ace of Aces: Richard Ira Bong Bong refined his lethal skill under the direction of 39th Fighter Squadron commander Thomas J. Lynch. Captain Charles P. O’Sullivan (5 victories), Lynch (20), and 1st Lieutenant Kenneth C. Sparks are kneeling, from left to right (11). Captain Richard C. Suehr (5), 1st Lieutenant John H. Lane (6), and 1st Lieutenant Stanley O. Andrews are standing from left to right (6). (Air Force of the United States of America)

Dick Bong made an impression on his squadron mates by being quiet and discreet on the ground but ferociously combative in the air. On December 27, he first demonstrated his mettle when the Japanese army and navy launched their first major joint air operation in the southwest Pacific, involving about 40 Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero carrier fighters, Nakajima Ki.43 army fighters (code-named “Oscar” by the Allies), and Aichi D3A1 navy dive bombers (code-named “Val” by the Allies). 12 P-38s of the 39th Fighter Squadron encountered the D3As as they assaulted Allied facilities at newly secured Buna. When their guards crossed the path of the Americans, Lynch was leading 2nd Lts. Dick Bong, Kenneth Sparks, and John Magnus down on the Vals. One fighter was disintegrated by Lynch’s bullets, and a Zero then threatened him. Bong sideslipped, shot at Lynch’s adversary, which spun away, then rocketed earthward as three additional Zeros closed in on him, eventually pulling out “2 inches over the shortest tree in Buna,” as he described it. He snagged a Val just pulling out of its dive at that precise moment and instantly transformed it into a blaze. Bong returned to Port Moresby, too exhausted to accomplish anything more, to report his first two victories, the first of which was ascribed to a P-38 pilot from the 49th Group. A total of 12 victories were claimed by the 39th Squadron, including another Oscar for Lynch, making him an ace, and a Zero by 2nd Lt. Carl G. Planck Jr., a 9th Squadron pilot on loan to the 39th.

Allied coastwatchers on New Britain detected a Japanese convoy traveling west along the south beach on January 6, 1943. After 36 Curtiss P-40Ks from the 49th Group’s 7th and 8th squadrons took off to bomb the convoy the next day, a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Consolidated Catalina flying boat sunk a straggling Japanese ship and reported that the convoy had changed course for Salamaua. Meanwhile, Lynch led eight P-38s, including Bong and Planck, across the Owen Stanley Mountains, oblivious of the P-40s’ change of route, to meet up with them. As a result, they missed the fighter-bombers but collided with the convoy’s air umbrella, the 11th Sentai (army aviation regiment), at 1315 hours. In the fight, the 39th won six Oscars, including one for Bong after a five-minute duel. After refueling in Dobodura, the Lightnings flew to Lae, where they were met by another 16 Ki.43 fighters from the 11th Sentai at 1530. On their first pass, Bong and Planck damaged two Oscars, and on their second pass, Bong destroyed one.

During a January 8 mission escorting Boeing B-17Es and Consolidated B-24Ds over Markham Bay, Bong spotted 2nd Lt. Richard Suehr of the 39th, who had already downed two Ki.43s, hotly engaged with a persistent adversary. Bong joined in with a frontal attack from above, and Suehr saw the Oscar explode and fall 18,000 feet into Huon Gulf. In only four aerial engagements Bong had become the Fifth Air Force’s first Lightning ace, and General Kenney rewarded him with a trip to Australia for R&R.

Bong returned to the 9th Squadron on February 3, now fully equipped with his own P-38s. A B-24 bomber detected Japanese troop transports and destroyers 100 miles northeast of Lae on March 2, and Kenney ordered all available squadrons to strike them. B-17s sunk two transports and fragmented the convoy formation despite heavy rain. On March 3, more over 300 US Army Air Forces and Royal Australian Air Force bombers pounded the Japanese ships. Bong observed seven 11th Sentai Oscars pass below him on their way to the bombers while escorting B-17s and North American B-25s to the target. Dropping behind one, he lit it on fire with a single burst and then saw it crash five miles offshore in Huon Gulf. The three-day Battle of the Bismarck Sea resulted in the sinking of 14 Japanese commerce ships and eight battleships, as well as the deaths of almost 7,000 Japanese and the destruction of nearly 60 enemy aircraft.

On March 11, the Japanese retaliated by attacking the 9th Squadron’s runway at Horanda with a number of Mitsubishi G4M1 “Betty” aircraft. The Americans scrambled, and Bong took off just as enemy bombs hit the runway. In pursuit of the bombers, he fired at one but received no response, and he had to dive away from attacking Zeros twice. Bong turned to attack one who was still on his tail as he pulled out of his second dive. His shots hit their mark, but he was astonished to see another plane coming at him as he raced by the Zero. After firing a short burst at the opponent, he discovered seven more boring in on him. He made a right turn and fired a long 20-degree deflection shot at the nearest assailant. “The first two Zeros were blazing all around the cockpit, and the third was following a big column of smoke,” he subsequently recalled. One Zero shot through his left wing and engine, causing a coolant leak, before he escaped the rest in a dive. After returning to Horanda, Bong wrote, “Feathered left engine and landed at home field safety,” requesting—and receiving—credit for “two certains and one probable.”

On March 29, 2nd Lt. Clay Barnes led Bong after a suspicious lone airplane that turned and sped toward New Britain during a high-altitude patrol north of Buna. They came up with their target, a Mitsubishi Ki.46 twin-engine army reconnaissance plane, over the Bismarck Sea after a 20-mile chase at 400 mph. Bong hit the Ki.46’s fuel tank on his fourth firing pass dead ahead, and the plane burst in flames. His eighth victory equaled him for the most victories among American aces in New Guinea with Lynch. Kenney quickly promoted Bong to first lieutenant.

Bong had established his success fundamentals by this point. “He must not get scornful of any airplane, no matter how basic and easy it may be to fly,” he wrote to his mother on April 10, 1944, in a letter that included counsel for his younger brother, who was intending to join the Army Air Forces. Not only should you get in and fly it, but you should also understand what makes it tick…. If he forgets, any aircraft in the globe can kill him if he isn’t completely in control of it.” Bong saw aerial warfare as a risky game that kept life exciting, but he wasn’t beyond abandoning a fight if he felt the chances were stacked too heavily against him. He claimed to be a bad shot, but his squadron mates said he struck everything he shot 90% of the time. Bong claimed that getting near enough to “put the gun muzzles in the Jap’s cockpit” was one of the secrets to his success. Another was his proclivity for going head-to-head with his opponents, which gave the P-38, a steady gun platform with superior firepower to the Zero and Oscar, a major edge. At least 16 of his successes were in gunfights with other soldiers.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto began Operation I on April 1, a large air operation aimed at halting the Allied advance that had been gathering steam in the aftermath of Japan’s defeats at Midway, Guadalcanal, and New Guinea. Bong got a double ace on April 14 when he shot down a G4M1 off Cape Frere during a Japanese attack on US shipping in Milne Bay. On the same day, Yamamoto declared the air battle completed, happy that Operation I had achieved its objectives (due to overoptimistic assertions by his aircrews). On the 18th, he went to Ballale to assess the air base, only to be intercepted, shot down, and killed by P-38Gs of the 339th Fighter Squadron over Bougainville.

After another stint of Australian R&R, Bong went through a “dry spell” until June 12, when his flight engaged eight Ki.43s of the 1st Sentai, en route from Wewak to strafe the 9th Squadron’s new airstrip at Bena Bena. In a series of duels with the nimble Oscars, Bong managed to get a deflection shot into one, scoring two 20mm hits mid-fuselage and watching it spin down. Bong returned with a flat right tire and his right tail boom riddled with 7.7mm hits that had severed hydraulic lines, but he just smiled as he surveyed the damage.

On July 26, ten Lightnings from the 9th Squadron were conducting a sweep over the Markham Valley when they came into ten Ki.43s and ten new Kawasaki Ki.61 “Tony” fighters just outside Lae. Bong dove his P-38G to gather speed after failing to score in his first run at the Tonys, then went head-on at an Oscar and set it on fire. In a left-hand spin from the rear quarter, he blew part of a Tony’s rear fuselage away and downed another. Another Oscar was torn by a head-on pass. Bong’s triple victory was equaled by 1st Lt. Jim “Duckbutt” Watkins, while Captain Gerald R. Johnson won an Oscar and a Tony despite crashing with his Lightning and tearing away the lower tail assembly.

The 49th Fighter Group escorted 3rd Bombardment Group B-25Ds against Japanese ships off Cape Gloucester two days later. The 9th Squadron claimed seven Ki.43s when they arrived at Rabaul to intervene. Bong sustained five 7.7mm hits in his left wing after being repeatedly targeted. He noticed two Oscars turning to chase several departing B-25s after diving and drawing up to reengage. Bong fired a 45-degree deflection shot into the rearmost aircraft during a shallow diving turn, and it turned northeast, trailing smoke and splashing into Rein Bay. With 16 points, he was now the top-scoring American in the Pacific, and Kenney appointed him to captain on August 24.

The Spectacular Combat Career of America’s Ace of Aces: Richard Ira Bong Major Bong (left), now a V Fighter Command staff officer with a “roving commission,” consults with Major Thomas J. McGuire of the 475th Fighter Group, a fierce competitor for Bong’s position as America’s top ace. (From the National Archives)

Bong returned to his squadron in early September after a two-week hiatus. He was credited with two probables during an attack on a formation of Bettys on the 6th (matched by two G4M1s of the 751st Kokutai, or naval air group, that came back damaged), but his right engine was shot up by their gunners. Bong was fortunate to make it to Marilinan airstrip before his P-38H crashed and was written off.

Bong was promoted to flight captain shortly after shooting down a Ki.46 over Cape Hoskins, New Britain, on October 2. He launched two Zeros over Rabaul on the 29th. On November 1st, American forces landed on Bougainville, and on November 5th, aircraft from the Fifth Air Force and the US Navy’s aircraft carriers Saratoga and Princeton attacked a Japanese cruiser force formed in Rabaul Harbor, threatening the beachhead. Bong claimed two Zeros after wading into a hornet’s nest of them.

Kenney then dispatched Bong to the United States, with orders to General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold in Washington, D.C. Bong got to meet his family, eat his mother’s food, and hang out with his hometown buddies along the route. Marjorie Vattendahl, a local beauty who had recently been crowned homecoming queen at State Teachers College in Superior, Wis., was also introduced to him. Bong was quickly made king, and the two were inseparable for the majority of his vacation.

The Spectacular Combat Career of America’s Ace of Aces: Richard Ira Bong In the cockpit of a P-38J, Bong and his fiancée, Marjorie Vattendahl, pose. To decorate his nacelle, the ace had a collection of hand-tinted pictures of Marge’s face made, so there would be replacements if one wore out. Richard I. Bong WWII Heritage Center (Richard I. Bong WWII Heritage Center)

Bong returned to the South Pacific after participating in a series of parades, speeches, and awards ceremonies aimed at boosting home front morale. Kenney put him in control of V Fighter Command’s replacement aircraft, giving him the freedom to choose his combat missions. He also bought a brand-new P-38J, one of the first in the area to have a bare aluminum finish, and he painted a portrait of Marjorie with the legend “Marge” on the nacelle. On February 15, 1944, he won his first Tony for his performance in Marge. Bong destroyed a Japanese cargo jet transporting high-ranking Japanese officers as it taxied along a landing strip a few weeks later. That incident didn’t count as an aerial victory for him.

Bong, who was no longer assigned to a squadron, would occasionally utilize his “roving commission” to fly missions with Major Tommy Lynch, engaging in friendly rivalry at the expense of the enemy. On March 3, at 1800 hours, Bong destroyed a Mitsubishi Ki.21 “Sally” bomber and Lynch damaged another during a sweep over Tadji air base. Bong shot down a second Sally offshore in the next 15 minutes, while Lynch took out a Tony and another enemy fighter. They were greeted with congratulations and word of Lynch’s elevation to lieutenant colonel when they returned to base. Lynch won his 20th battle on March 5, but his right engine was hit by small-arms fire three days later when strafing Japanese fishing luggers and barges in Aitape Harbor. Bong radioed him to bail out, but by the time he saw the canopy rip loose and Lynch slide out just before his plane exploded, the Lightning had descended below 200 feet. Bong had to feather the propeller of his own injured right engine and sadly flew back to his base at Nadzab after a fruitless search of the jungle area where Lynch had fallen.

Soon thereafter Kenney gave Bong another R&R, during which he met with General MacArthur. The ace was back in New Guinea by April 3, however, when he downed an Oscar of the 33rd Sentai near Hollandia, for his 25th victory. During another strike on the 12th, Bong splashed an Oscar in Tanamerah Bay and destroyed two more over Hollandia.

The Spectacular Combat Career of America’s Ace of Aces: Richard Ira Bong Bong had destroyed 27 enemy aircraft by the middle of April 1944. Bong received a personal note from the former “ace of aces” after surpassing Eddie Rickenbacker’s record (26). (From the National Archives)

Bong has now eclipsed Edward V. Rickenbacker, the most successful American ace of World War I, with a score of 26. “I just received the happy news that you are the first one to break my record by taking down 27 planes in combat,” Eddie Rickenbacker wrote to him after Kenney promoted him to major. I’d want to express my heartfelt congratulations in the hopes that you’ll be able to double or quadruple this amount.”

In May, Kenney sent Bong to the United States with a letter to Hap Arnold, requesting permission to explore the most up-to-date techniques and technology for conducting Pacific gunnery instruction. Arnold agreed and gave Bong permission to return home, where he married Vattendahl. Arnold sent Bong on a 15-state tour to promote war bonds upon his return to Washington.

Bong returned to the Pacific after visiting several training locations to find the Fifth and Thirteenth Air Forces had been consolidated into the Far East Air Force (FEAF), which was commanded by General Kenney. Bong was assigned as an advanced gunnery instructor, and he was allowed to go on missions to see how his pupils did with the new skills, but he was only to protect himself if he was attacked, not to engage in combat.

The FEAF launched an attack on the Japanese oil refineries at Balikpapan, Borneo, on October 10. Bong, serving as an element commander, spotted a twin-engine Nakajima J1N1-S “Irving” at 5,000 feet while flying ahead of the bombers with 14 P-38Js of the 9th Fighter Squadron. He made a quick wingover, overtook the Irving, shot it down, and watched at least one of the Irving’s crew members bail out. As Bong re-entered the formation, the other P-38s were engaged in combat with a group of fighters, one of whom Bong blew up.

Bong’s score had risen to 30, but Kenney had restricted him from further operations after learning that he had taken part in the long and dangerous Balikpapan raid. Major Thomas J. McGuire, the leader and leading ace of the 431st Fighter Squadron, was among the P-38 pilots escorting the next Balikpapan raid on October 14, whose desire was to surpass Bong’s score—and he did so that day, claiming an Oscar, a Zero, and a Nakajima Ki.44 “Tojo” interceptor.

On October 20, US Army forces landed on the Philippine island of Leyte. Two crucial air bases for the invasion were ready to accept fighters, and Bong flew with his old squadron, the 9th, from Morotai to Tacloban on the 27th. Kenney was on hand to personally welcome each pilot, and he and Bong cracked jokes about his noncombat training duty. Bong slyly stated that he would probably not assist in operations right away, then inquired, “Could I just join up with the first patrol to get a feel for the area?”

Bong must have gotten to know the area quickly since he downed an Oscar off Biliran Island at 1720 that same day. Another Oscar was shot down the next day off the coast of Leyte, and when a bomb-carrying Ki.43 he came across over the southern point of Masbate Island tried to dive away, its own just-released ordnance struck it, ripping the tail assembly away.

Bong destroyed an Oscar of the 204th Sentai while assisting a bombing attack on a Japanese army transport near Ormoc airfield on November 1. He came across A6M5 Zeroes off the southern shore of Ormoc Bay on the 11th and quickly killed two of them. He flew a Sally near Bohol Island at 1505 hours and a Tojo over Ormoc Bay at 1610 hours on the third anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Meanwhile, General Kenney had nominated Bong for the Medal of Honor, which MacArthur enthusiastically accepted. “For conspicuous bravery and intrepidity in combat above and beyond the call of duty from 10 October to 15 November 1944 in the Southwest Pacific Area,” the citation stated. Despite the fact that he was assigned to service as a gunner instructor and was not needed or expected to conduct combat duty, Major Bong voluntarily and at his own desire participated in numerous combat missions, including extremely dangerous sorties over Balikpapan, Borneo, and the Philippines. During this vital period, his boldness and daring led in his shooting down eight enemy planes.”

The award was authorized by Congress, and MacArthur personally delivered it to Bong. “Major Richard Ira Bong, who has ruled the air from New Guinea to the Philippines, I now induct you into the society of the bravest of the brave, the wearers of the Medal of Honor of the United States of America,” the laughing general remarked, throwing away his planned speech.

The Spectacular Combat Career of America’s Ace of Aces: Richard Ira Bong Bong receives the Medal of Honor from General Douglas MacArthur in December 1944. General George C. Kenney ordered the ace home for the final time after he earned two more triumphs on December 15 and 17, raising his total to 40. (From the National Archives)

On December 15, Bong shot down one of two Ki.43s attempting to attack American shipping off the coast of Mindoro. On the 17th, he was awarded another Oscar for his work in San José, Mindoro. In two years and 500 combat hours, he had 40 victories, seven probable triumphs, and 11 enemy planes damaged. When Kenney found out about it, he told Bong to park his P-38L and go away. Whether he liked it or not, the American ace of aces was returning to his homeland for the final time.

Bong was greeted as a hero when he landed in the United States on Christmas Eve. Major Tommy McGuire was grounded just long enough for Bong to bask in the glory of his achievement (and endure another propaganda tour, which he described to a fellow ace as “worse than having a Zero on your tail”), but Kenney never allowed him to surpass Bong’s score; after scoring 38 victories, he was killed in action on January 7, 1945.

Dick Bong married Marge at a ceremony attended by 1,200 people on February 10, 1945. They spent their honeymoon in California. He was posted to the Flight Test Section at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio after his leave ended, to work with the Lockheed P-80 jet fighter. Bong was interested by the new plane and reported to Lockheed’s plant in Burbank, California, in June.

When Bong got into P-80 Bureau No. 44-85048 and took off from Lockheed’s Runway 15 at 1450 hours on August 6, he had logged 10 flights and four jet-flying hours. As he soared to 300 or 400 feet, observers observed plumes of black smoke from the tailpipe, then the plane rolled right, the canopy flew off, and the jet plunged nose-first into the earth. Bong’s body was discovered around 100 feet from the engine, partially wrapped in the shrouds of his parachute, two minutes after launch. The engine stalled because he had not engaged the “departure and land” backup switch on his electric fuel pump prior to takeoff.

Bong had survived numerous air fights only to perish during a routine test flight. A nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on the same day, signaling the end of the war and the beginning of a new era. The news of his death cast a cloud on the FEAF as a whole. “You see, we not only liked him, we boasted about him, we were proud of him,” General Kenny added. That’s why when we read the telegram of his death, everyone of us got a lump in our throat.” Richard I. Bong was laid to rest in Poplar, his hometown. The Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross with six oak leaf clusters, and the Air Medal with 14 oak leaves were among the awards he received.

In his home state, Bong is remembered in a number of ways. In his high school, there is a Bong Memorial chamber with his uniform, all 26 of his decorations, photographs, media clippings, and a piece of the jet in which he was killed. Marge Bong Drucker, his wife, also assisted in the construction of the Richard I. Bong Memorial Center in Superior, Wisconsin. The center, which includes a restored P-38L with Marge’s picture imprinted on its side, was dedicated on September 24, 2002.

 


HistoryNet research director Jon Guttman wrote this essay, which first appeared in the March 2007 issue of Aviation History magazine. Subscribe to Aviation History today for more excellent content!

Do you want to build your own P-38J Marge like Bong’s? To learn more, go here.

Bong was born April 16, 1919, in Joplin, Missouri, to Miller Bong, an insurance salesman, and his wife, Emma. His parents bought a farm shortly before his birth, and Bong grew up on a farm near Stockton, Missouri, where he graduated from high school in 1937. He attended the University of Missouri and the University of Missouri–Columbia to study journalism, graduating in 1941 with a B.S. degree.. Read more about richard bong death and let us know what you think.

Richard Bong is still alive."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What did Richard Bong do?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"

Richard Bong is a fictional character from the novel The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"How many planes did Bong shoot down?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":" Bong shot down five planes."}}]}

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Richard Bong is still alive.

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Richard Bong is a fictional character from the novel The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

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Bong shot down five planes.

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