The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients

Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom

United States Marine Corps Reserve
Richard Fleming



Captain Richard E. Fleming
United States Marine Corps Reserves

For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty as Flight Officer, Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron TWO FORTY-ONE during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of Midway on June 4 and 5, 1942. When his squadron Commander was shot down during the initial attack upon an enemy aircraft carrier, Captain Fleming led the remainder of the division with such fearless determination that he dived his own plane to the perilously low altitude of four hundred feet before releasing his bomb. Although his craft was riddled by 179 hits in the blistering hail of fire that burst upon him from Japanese fighter guns and antiaircraft batteries, he pulled out with only two minor wounds inflicted upon himself. On the night of June 4, when the Squadron Commander lost his way and became separated from the others, Captain Fleming brought his own plane in for a safe landing at its base despite hazardous weather conditions and total darkness. The following day, after less that four hours' sleep, he led the second division of his squadron in a coordinated glide-bombing and dive- bombing assault upon a Japanese battleship. Undeterred by a fateful approach glide, during which his ship was struck and set afire, he grimly pressed home his attack to an altitude of five hundred feet, released his bomb to score a near-miss on the stern of his target, then crashed to the sea in flames. His dauntless perseverance and unyielding devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


Richard E. Fleming was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on 2 November 1917. He attended St. Thomas Military Academy and graduated in the Class of 1935. During his senior year he was chosen as top student officer.

From St. Thomas he entered the University of Minnesota and became president of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1939. Soon after graduation, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and applied for flight training. He was sent to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, for training and finished at the top of his class in 1940. He was promoted to first lieutenant in April 1942 and to captain a month later.

Captain Fleming's first duty station was the Naval Air Base in San Diego, California. Ten days after the war began he flew from Pearl Harbor to Midway Island.

Captain Fleming, Flight Officer of Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 241, established himself as one of the great heroes of World War II in the battle of Midway. When his Squadron Commander was shot down during the initial attack on a Japanese aircraft carrier, Capt Fleming took command of the division. Leaving the remainder of his formation, he dived to the perilously low altitude of 400 feet, exposing himself to enemy fire in order to score a hit on the ship.

The following day, 5 June 1942, Capt Fleming led the second division of his squadron in a mass dive-bombing assault on an enemy battleship. Putting his plane into an approach glide, he again dived low and succeeded in scoring a near-miss on the objective. His plane, hit by anti-aircraft, caught fire. Unable to pull out of his dive, Capt Fleming, his ship a mass of flames, crashed into the sea.

For "extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty," Capt Fleming was posthumously awarded the nation's highest military decoration - the Medal of Honor.

On 24 November 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented the Medal of Honor to Capt Fleming's mother.

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