Robert W. Pointer

IN TRIBUTE TO MAJOR RICHARD I. BONG

Major Richard I. Bong MOH
Major RICHARD BONG (September 24, 1920 – August 6, 1945) was the most successful fighter pilot of the US in WW2. During the course of his military service as a fighter pilot, Bong is credited with 40 kills and is nicknamed "Ace of Aces". He was tbe recipient of numerous distinguished awards including Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal. On August 6, 1945 he died during an accidental plane crash while testing the P 80A "Shooting Star" near Burbank, California

IWVPA Bronze Helmet Top Poet Award of Excellence - May 2004
A visit to a place of rest,
beneath a pine, a white;
a place where man and birds make nest,
to hide them through the night.
Now roots, rough crusted, trough the sod
as though to show in timbered hod
they carry travailed duty yet
to mark the mark the place where boy was met
in joyful hunts and walks through these
rough acre’d hills of sibling trees.
The place he ne’er forgot when called…
this Gitche Gumme’s view; appalled
to more majestic sight
unveiled to whom are blessed in flight.

Pacific then, those skies of blue and white
were rent by screaming Lightning’s firefight
While in that cauldron’s boiling sweat was born
The Ace from whom all Ace’s fabric’s torn.

Forget this quiet place, if that you can
for few there come to visit and to stand
in silent awe of who lies here in sleep
under these watchful arbors, green and deep
But when you gaze into the azured blue
and think of those who in it glee’ly flew
do not forget the cost our freedom ‘paid
by likes of him who here, alone, was laid.

Author’s Note: This poem was inspired by a History Channel program devoted to the P-38 and those who flew them in WW II.

I grew up in Wisconsin during that time and as my grandparents resided in Superior, WI, I had heard many stories of the exploits of Maj. Richard Bong. He was native to Poplar, WI, a small town near just south of the city and the great lake of Superior, (called Gitchie Gummie by the American Indians, long before the white man came to that area).

Bong became the “Ace of Aces” in the Pacific theater of action by scoring 40 kills of Japanese planes. That record still stands, and is unlikely to ever by broken. He was awarded the CMH

He was killed in a test of a new jet aircraft soon after he returned to the US, and after the war was over. A memorial museum has been built in Superior to honor his memory and that of the host of his fellow WW II pilots. The new bridge connecting Superior to Duluth, Minnesota, bears his name also.

He lies in an inauspicious grave in a small cemetery outside Poplar, WI.