Richard "Dick" Ira Bong (September 24, 1920 – August 6, 1945) was a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC), he is the United States' all time "Ace of Aces", having shot down 40 enemy aircraft during World War II.
Bong grew up on a farm near Poplar, Wisconsin. In 1941, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and was flying combat missions in the Pacific theater by late 1942, getting his first "kills" in late December. By April of 1943, he had shot down 27 aircraft, surpassing Eddie Rickenbacker's American record of 26 kills during World War I. His 40th and last victory was in late 1944. All of Bong's victories were while he was flying a P-38.
On New Year's Eve, 1944, General Kenney had Bong sent home for good. Bong participated in numerous PR activities, such as promoting the sale of war bonds. He then became a test pilot for jet fighters. On August 6, 1945, the same day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Bong was killed in a plane crash when his P-80 Shooting Star malfunctioned shortly after takeoff.
Among his decorations were the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star (with 1 OLC — Oak Leaf Cluster), the Distinguished Flying Cross (with 6 OLC's), the Air Medal (with 14 OLC's), and many other American and foreign medals.