High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles 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 World War II. He was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) and a recipient of the Medal of Honor. Bong, the son of Swedish immigrant parents, grew up on a farm in Poplar, Wisconsin as one of nine children. He became interested in aircraft at an early age and was a keen model builder. He began studying at Superior State Teachers College in 1938. While there, Bong enrolled in the Civilian Pilot Training Program and also took private flying lessons. In 1941 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program. One of his flight instructors was Capt.