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America's top war pilot: Richard Ira "Dick" Bong was a fighter pilot and a recipient of the Medal of Honor in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) during WW2. He was the USA's highest-scoring air ace. While flying his P-38 Lightning, Bong shot down at least 40 Japanese aircraft.

Photos: Richard Bong remembered as America's top war pilot

America's top war pilot: Richard Ira "Dick" Bong was a fighter pilot and a recipient of the Medal of Honor in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) during WW2. He was the USA's highest-scoring air ace. While flying his P-38 Lightning, Bong shot down at least 40 Japanese aircraft.

General Chennault, of the Flying Tigers. He's standing in front of a P-51C Mustang, delivered to the 23rd Fighter Group in November 1943.

General Chennault, of the Flying Tigers. He's standing in front of a P-51C Mustang, delivered to the 23rd Fighter Group in November 1943.

Erich Hartmann, called the Blond Knight of the German Luftwaffe, achieved the staggering total of 352 confirmed victories. Hartmann’s incredible combat record earned him the coveted diamonds to his Knight’s Cross from Hitler personally. He was never shot down or forced to land due to enemy fire. He survived the war and died in 1993.

✠ Erich Hartmann (April 1922 - September RK Leutnant Flugzeugführer i. d. 52 [Staffelkapitän 52 since EL] Leutnant Staffelkapitän 52 Sw] Oberleutnant Staffelkapitän 52 Br] Oberleutnant Staffelkapitän 52

William  "Bull" Halsey (1882 - 1959) US admiral, important commander in the Pacific theater during World War II, his ships launched Doolittle's raid on Tokyo

William "Bull" Halsey (1882 - 1959) US admiral, important commander in the Pacific theater during World War II, his ships launched Doolittle's raid on Tokyo

Part II. The P-38 "Lightning," and Major Richard Ira Bong (1920 - 1945) He was a skilled P-38 fighter pilot, credited with 40 kills. He flew in the 9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group. Major Bong was one of the two top scoring fighter "Aces" of WWII, and was the recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Part II. The P-38 "Lightning," and Major Richard Ira Bong (1920 - 1945) He was a skilled P-38 fighter pilot, credited with 40 kills. He flew in the 9th Fighter Squadron, 49th Fighter Group. Major Bong was one of the two top scoring fighter "Aces" of WWII, and was the recipient of the Medal of Honor.

✠Herman Graf is credited with 212 victories in over 830 missions. He recorded 202 victories over the Eastern Front. Of his 10 victories recorded over the Western front, six were four-engine bombers

✠Herman Graf is credited with 212 victories in over 830 missions. He recorded 202 victories over the Eastern Front. Of his 10 victories recorded over the Western front, six were four-engine bombers

The top "Spitfire killer " Oberst Josef "Pips" Priller . Priller was the most succesful Luftwaffe pilot in battles with Spitfires claiming at least 68 of them

The top "Spitfire killer " Oberst Josef "Pips" Priller . Priller was the most succesful Luftwaffe pilot in battles with Spitfires claiming at least 68 of them

Hans Joachim Marseille (13 Dec 1919 – 30 Sep 1942) was a Luftwaffe fighter pilot and flying ace during WW II. He is noted for his aerial battles during the North African Campaign. One of the most successful fighter pilots, he was nicknamed the "Star of Africa". Marseille claimed all but seven of his "official" 158 victories against the British Commonwealth's Desert Air Force over North Africa, flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter for his entire combat career.

✠ Hans-Joachim Marseille December 1919 – 30 September Killed in a flying accident. RK Leutnant Flugzeugführer i. d. 27 EL] Oberleutnant Flugzeugführer i. d. 27 Sw] Oberleutnant Staffelkapitän 27 Br] Oberleutnant Staffelkapitän 27

Brig. Gen. Frederick Castle, commander of 4th Combat Bombardment Wing and former commander of US 94th Bomb Group, promoted 14 December 1944, ten days before his death. (US Army Air Forces photo). On 24 December 1944, Castle was killed when his B-17 crashed in a mission over the Ardennes. For his actions holding the plane aloft to give his crew time to bail out, he received the Medal of Honor.

Brig. Gen. Frederick Castle, commander of 4th Combat Bombardment Wing and former commander of US 94th Bomb Group, promoted 14 December 1944, ten days before his death. (US Army Air Forces photo). On 24 December 1944, Castle was killed when his B-17 crashed in a mission over the Ardennes. For his actions holding the plane aloft to give his crew time to bail out, he received the Medal of Honor.

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