Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dick and Marge

WWII flying ace Richard Bong, his wife Marge and his P-38 "Lightning", also named Marge, in Minnesota during a publicity tour in June, 1944

How cool is this plane?  Dick Bong, in addition to having a wicked cool name, is apparently the leading American flying ace.  He shot down at least 40 Japanese planes during World War II.  An amazing feat if there ever was one.  

Dick and Marge

Richard "Dick" Ira Bong (September 24, 1920 - August 6, 1945) was born in nearby (to me, anyway) Poplar, Wisconsin to Swedish immigrant farmers.  He had 8 sisters and brothers, and was interested in aircraft at an early age.  Richard entered service in 1941.  One of his instructors was even one of my idols, Barry Goldwater.  

Richard Bong

After his record 40 kills and Congressional Medal of Honor, he was told to retire at the ripe old age of 24.  Unfortunately, he passed away August 6, 1945 when a P-80 he was testing malfunctioned.  He was not able to deploy properly and died the same day the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Talented, Handsome and Patriotic

Marge carried on.  She moved to California, became a model, then magazine publisher.  She remarried and had two children.  Later in life she returned to Wisconsin and became a leader in field of WWII remembrance.  She cut the ribbon at the Bong World War II Heritage Center in 2002, was a popular national speaker, and wrote a book on her life with Bong,  I would love to read her book, but it's crazy expensive.  Marge would pass away at age 79 from a six year battle with cancer in 2003.  

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