For years the best way to learn the Richard Bong story was the memorial room in the corner of Poplar Middle School’s gymnasium. Travelers passing through the village of Poplar on US Highway 2 would catch a glimpse of a World War II fighter plane poised in an attacking angle, mounted on pylons, just outside the school. As the P-38 Lighting lured in the curious, they were met with a quiet room where they could read all about the greatest American ace. The room featured a large showcase that housed Richard Bong’s uniform with all its medals—including the Medal of Honor presented to him by General Douglas MacArthur in the field. Pictures and newspaper articles chronicled the farm boy’s amazing journey as he left Wisconsin before Pearl Harbor and returned home a celebrity of World War II.
This is where our project began.
This room spoke to all those who had the privilege to visit it and get to know Richard Bong in the very town he knew as home. Today all the treasures now reside in the Richard I. Bong Veteran’s Historical Center in Superior, Wisconsin. This magnificent museum houses the beautifully restored P-38 that once stood guard in Poplar and forever properly preserves the legacy of Richard Bong.