Medal of Honor Citation

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.

World War II 1941-1945 Medal of Honor

Marine Corps University