ROBERT MURRAY HANSON, USMCR (DECEASED)
Medal of Honor Citation
Second 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 Lewis G. Merritt on 19 August 1944 in Boston, Massachusetts.
World War II 1941-1945 Medal of Honor