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WWII Ace Richard Bong’s Family Reunites at EAA
September 8, 2016 - Forty family members of Wisconsin native Maj. Richard Bong, America’s World War II Ace of Aces, held a reunion at the EAA AirVenture Museum on September 4 in honor of Dick and his wife, Marge.
Bong flew the P-38 Lightning in the Pacific theater during World War II, racking up an impressive score of 40 aerial victories. He named his P-38 Marge after his girl back home, whom he later married, and had her portrait painted onto the nose.
EAA held a special lunch presentation for his family members about the P-38 and allowed them to climb into the museum’s P-38 Lightning, which was restored to resemble the original Marge. Dick’s sister, Jerry, made the cockpit climb look easy, jumping up the ladder and talking about how many memories the experience brought back.
“To see so many generations of this family here together with this aircraft is really special,” said Chris Henry, EAA museum programs representative. “It is such an honor to get to be a part of this.”
The Lockheed P-38 was a favorite among pilots in the Pacific theater during World War II, with its multi-engine capability and the four .50-caliber machine guns and 20 mm cannon in the nose giving it an edge against other airplanes. EAA’s P-38 rolled off of the Lockheed assembly line in June of 1945. It was sent to the scrap yard in early 1946 and was saved by a company wanting to use it as a mapping platform. After changing hands a few times, it was finally donated to the EAA AirVenture Museum by Connie Edwards in honor of his brother Bill Edwards. The airplane’s nose art was painted to resemble the original Marge P-38 flown by Dick.
Dick received the Congressional Medal of Honor in December 1944, and died on August 6, 1945 during a test flight accident in a P-80A.