The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients

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

First Liutenant

United States Marine Corps Reserve
Robert Hanson



First Lieutenant Robert M. Hanson
United States Marine Corps Reserve

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a fighter pilot attached to Marine Fighting Squadron TWO FIFTEEN in action against Japanese forces at Bougainville Islands, November 1, 1943, and New Britian Island, January 24, 1944. Undetered by fierce opposition and fearless in the face of overwhelming odds, First Lieutenant Hanson fought the Japanese boldly and with daring aggressiveness. On November 1, 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 January 24, First Lieutenant 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 Zeros 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 United States Naval Service.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
President of the U
nited States

First Lieutenant Robert M. Hanson, who shot down 25 Japanese planes from the South Pacific skies, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

A master of individual air combat, he downed 20 enemy planes in six consecutive flying days. 1stLt Hanson was commended in the citation accompanying the Medal of Honor for his bold attack against six enemy torpedo bombers, 1 November 1943, over Bougainville Island, and for bringing down four Zeros, the premier Japanese fighter, while fighting them alone over New Britain, 24 January 1944.

First Lieutenant Hanson arrived in the South Pacific in June 1943 and his daring tactics and total disregard for death soon became well known. His fatal crash occurred one day before his twenty-fourth birthday. Last seen 3 February 1944, when his plane crashed into the sea while he was flying an escort mission over Rabaul, New Britain, he was subsequently declared killed in action.

A member of the famed Fighting Corsairs squadron, the ace was shot down only once before his final flight, when a Zero caught him over Bougainville Island. Bringing his plane down on the ocean, he paddled for six hours in a rubber life raft before being rescued by a destroyer.

Robert M. Hanson was a son of Methodist missionaries who were in India at the time of his birth. In Lucknow, India, his playmates were Hindu children. 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, on his way back to the United States to attend college, he bicycled his way through Europe and was in Vienna during the anschluss. Though attending Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota, at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted for naval flight training in May 1942 and earned his wings and a Marine Corps commission as second lieutenant on 19 February 1943 in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The Medal of Honor was presented to the lieutenant's mother by MajGen Lewie G. Merritt on 19 August 1944 in Boston, Massachusetts.
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