Capturing the hearts of a beleaguered nation, the fighter pilots of World War II engaged in a kind of battle that became the stuff of legend. They cut through the sky in their P-38s to go one-on-one against the enemy—and those who survived the deadly showdowns with enough courage and skill earned the right to be called aces. But two men in particular rose to become something more. They became icons of aerial combat, in a heroic rivalry that inspired a weary nation to fight on.
Richard “Dick” Bong was the bashful, pink-faced farm boy from the Midwest. Thomas “Tommy” McGuire was the wise-cracking, fast-talking kid from New Jersey. What they shared was an unparalleled gallantry under fire which won them both the Medal of Honor—and remains the subject of hushed and reverent conversation wherever aerial warfare is admired.
What they had between them was a closely watched rivalry to see who would emerge as the top-scoring American ace of the war. What they left behind is a legacy of pride we will never forget, and a record of aerial victories that has yet to be surpassed anywhere in the world.
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