1st Lt Robert Murry Hanson
United States Marine Corps, F4U Corsair Pilot
Son of Methodist missionaries he was born in Lucknow, India. After attending junior high school in the United States, he returned to India to become light-heavyweight and heavy-weight wrestling champion of the United Provinces. In the spring of 1938 he bicycled through Europe before returning to the United States. Hanson attended Hamline University, he enlisted for naval flight training in May 1942 and earned his wings and a Marine Corps commission as second lieutenant on February 19, 1943 at Corpus Christi, Texas.
Arrived in the South Pacific in June 1943 and assigned to VMF-215 "Fighting Corsairs", he downed 20 enemy planes in six consecutive flying days. On November 1, 1943 he claimed six torpedo bombers off Bougainville. On January 24, 1944 he claimed four Zeros over New Britain.
Medal of Honor
Hanson earned the Medal of Honor for actions between 1 November 1943 and 24 January 1944, but was killed piloting F4U Corsair 56039 on February 3, 1944 over Rabaul before it was awarded. The Medal of Honor was presented to Hanson's mother by MajGen Lewie G. Merritt on August 19, 1944 in Boston, Massachusetts.
|Medal of Honor
Citation: "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and above and beyond the call of duty as fighter pilot attached to Marine Fighting Squadron 215 in action against enemy Japanese forces at Bougainville Island, 1 November 1943; and New Britain Island, 24 January 1944. Undeterred by fierce opposition, and fearless in the face of overwhelming odds, 1st Lt. Hanson fought the Japanese boldly and with daring aggressiveness. On 1 November, while flying cover for our landing operations at Empress Augusta Bay, he dauntlessly attacked six enemy torpedo bombers, forcing them to jettison their bombs and destroying one Japanese plane during the action. Cut off from his division while deep in enemy territory during a high cover flight over Simpson Harbor on 24 January, 1st Lt. Hanson waged a lone and gallant battle against hostile interceptors as they were orbiting to attack our bombers and, striking with devastating fury, brought down four Zeroes and probably a fifth. Handling his plane superbly in both pursuit and attack measures, he was a master of individual air combat, accounting for a total of 25 Japanese aircraft in this theater of war. His great personal valor and invincible fighting spirit were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service."
Do you have photos or additional information to add?