Richard I. Bong WWII Heritage Center
The Mission of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center is to honor the memory of Major Bong and all the veterans of WWII and later conflicts whose sacrifices maintain our Freedoms. The Center is an educational resource that collects and preserves the tangible legacy of these veterans and their home front supporters.
Richard Ira "Dick" Bong (September 24, 1920 – August 6, 1945) is the United States' highest-scoring air ace, having shot down at least 40 Japanese aircraft during more than 200 missions in World War II. He was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) and a recipient of the Medal of Honor. All of his aerial victories were in the P-38 Lightning.
In January 1945, General Kenney sent America's ace of aces home for his own safety. He married his sweetheart, Marge, and participated in numerous PR activities, such as promoting the sale of war bonds. Six months later, on August 6 1945, Bong was killed testing one of the US’s first jet fighters, the Lockheed P-80A Shooting Star. The plane's primary fuel pump malfunctioned during takeoff. Bong either forgot to switch to the auxiliary fuel pump, or for some reason was unable to do so. Bong cleared away from the aircraft, but was too low for his parachute to deploy.