Hanson, Robert Murray, Capt

MIA/POW
 
 Service Photo 
 Service Details
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Last Rank
Captain
Last Primary MOS
7598-Basic Fixed-Wing Pilot
Last MOSGroup
Pilots/Naval Flight Officers
Primary Unit
1944-Present, 7598, Missing In Action
Service Years
1942 - 1944
Official/Unofficial USMC Certificates
Golden Dragon Certificate
Shellback Certificate

Captain

 
 

 Current Photo 
 Personal Details 

23 kb

Country of Birth
India
India
Year of Birth
1920
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Cpl Elizabeth Davis to remember Marine Capt Robert Murray Hanson.

If you knew or served with this Marine and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
 
Contact Info

 Official Badges 


 Unofficial Badges 

Order of the Golden Dragon Shellback


 Military Association Memberships
World War II Fallen
  1944, World War II Fallen


 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
HANSON, Robert M., 1st Lieutenant, USMCR. Father, Rev. Harry A. Hanson, 31 Brooks Ave., Newtonville, Boston, Mass + HANSON, Robert Murray, 19154, VMF-215, MAG-14, 1st MAW, FMF, New Britain area, February 3, 1944, killed in action + HANSON, Robert Murray, Captain, O-019154, USMC, from Massachusetts, Manila American Cemetery + HANSON, Robert M, CAPT, O-19154, USMC, from Massachusetts, location New Britain Island, date of loss February 3, 1944

The most successful Corsair pilot in the Navy or Marine Corps was Marine Lt. Robert Murray Hanson of VMF-215 with 25 victories - all made between August 1943 and February 1944, scoring 20 of these kills in a 17 day period. The son of missionaries, he was born in Lucknow, India, and became the heavyweight wrestling champion of the United Provinces before the war. On a bicycle trip in pre-war Europe, he was in Vienna in 1938 when the Nazis took over. He attended Hamline University in St. Paul, where he continued wrestling.

VMF-214
Hanson started his combat career with the original VMF-214, when the unit was known as the "Swashbucklers," before Pappy Boyington and the "Black Sheep" assumed the squadron number. Other pilots noted Hanson as somewhat belligerent, who easily took a dislike to other fliers. But he was an excellent gunner. On Hanson's first combat mission, August 4, 1943, he flew wing for 1stLt. Stanley "Chief" Synar. Returning from a strafing run against the Shortlands, the Swashbucklers were jumped by the Japanese. One pounced on Chief, dived and then came up beneath him. His gunfire struck the cockpit and injured Synar. But Hanson got behind Synar's attacker, and "shot his ass off," only to get shot up himself, his Corsair taking a 20mm rounds between the guns, in the flap, and in the right stabilizer. In a probable case of mistaken identity, Hanson reported his victim as a Zero, although the more experienced Synar described the white spinner, in-line engine, and rows of exhaust stacks that almost certainly indicated a Ki-61 Tony. Later that month, in a landing mix-up, he stomped on his brakes, flipping over and destroying his Corsair (#18072). The next day, August 26, Hanson scored his second victory on a B-24 escort. His supercharger was acting up, and he lagged behind his division, permitting him to surprise a lone Zero that rashly attacked the Corsairs. Hanson's first shots had little effect, but he closed in, gave another burst, and the Zero flamed from the wing root and went down.

VMF-215
His first combat tour with VMF-215 included the Bougainville landings on November 1, 1943. He achieved ace status that day when he downed a B5N and two A6Ms over Empress Augusta Bay at about 1345 hours. He was shot down himself and was shortly picked up unhurt from the water. But during his second combat tour, he really ran up his score, shooting down Japanese planes in clumps of three, four and five. On January 14, 1944 he downed five Zeros, on the 24th he claimed another four, on the 26th three, and on the 30th two Zeros and a Tojo. On February 3, 1944, one day before his 24th birthday, Hanson participated in a fighter sweep. On the return flight, he left his flight path to strafe a lighthouse on Cape St. George, New Ireland, that had proved troublesome as a enemy flak tower and observation post. His friends watched from above as Hanson's big blue-gray Corsair ran at the tower, its six machine guns peppering the structure. Suddenly, they were horrified to see Hanson's aircraft shudder as its wing disintegrated from flak hits. The young ace tried to ditch, but his aircraft hit the surface, cartwheeled and crashed, leaving only scattered debris. Hanson was the third and last Marine Corsair pilot to receive the Medal of Honor and the youngest.
   
Other Comments:

Medal of Honor
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to FIRST LIEUTENANT ROBERT M. HANSON UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE for service as set forth in the following CITATION: 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 Britain 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.
   
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Northern Solomon Islands Campaign (1943-44)/Battle of Bougainville
Start Year
1943
End Year
1944

Description
After New Georgia, the next major operation was an invasion of the island of Bougainville, which was approached by landings at Mono and Stirling in the Treasury Islands on October 25-27, 1943. A Marine division landed on the west coast of Bougainville at Empress Augusta Bay on November 1, 1943. The Marines were followed within the month by an Army division and replaced in the next month by another Army division.

It was late November before the beachhead at Empress Augusta Bay was secure. This beachhead was all that was needed, and no attempt was made to capture the entire island. Allied planes neutralized enemy airfields in the northern part of the island, and the Allied command made use of its naval and air superiority to contain the Japanese garrison on Bougainville and cut its supply line to Rabaul by occupying the Green Islands (February 14, 1944).

Despite these measures, the Japanese maintained pressure against the beachhead, mounting an especially heavy but unsuccessful counterattack as late as March 1944. Success at Bougainville isolated all Japanese forces left in the Solomons. The Japanese sustained comparatively heavy air and naval losses during the campaign, which further crippled the Japanese Combined Fleet and had a vital effect on the balance of naval power in the Central Pacific.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
1943
To Year
1944
 
Last Updated:
Mar 4, 2008
   
Personal Memories
   
Units Participated in Operation

4th Marine Regiment

1st Bn, 21st Marine Regiment (1/21)

VMGR-234

3rd Bn, 4th Marine Regiment (3/4), 4th Marine Regiment

3rd Bn, 9th Marine Regiment (3/9)

1st Parachute Bn, 1st Parachute Regiment

MAG-24

3rd Combat Engineer Bn

MAG-14

2nd Bn, 21st Marine Regiment (2/21)

21st Marine Regiment

3rd Bn, 21st Marine Regiment (3/21)

2nd Bn, 12th Marine Regiment (2/12)

3rd Amtrac Bn

VMGR-152

1st Parachute Regiment

 
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  622 Also There at This Battle:
  • Alexander, Elbert Bernard, Pvt, (1942-1943)
  • Alford, Major Fitzhugh, 1stLt, (1943-1944)
  • Alford, Thomas Carl, Cpl, (1942-1943)
  • Allen, Ezekiel Curry, TSgt, (1942-1944)
  • Allen, Matthew Churchill, 1stLt, (1942-1943)
  • Allen, Samuel Gammon, Sgt, (1942-1944)
  • Anderson, Norman Ira, Pvt, (1942-1943)
  • Andrews, Marion, Capt, (1942-1962)
  • Bahe, Henry Jr, Cpl, (1942-1946)
  • Bailey, William Upson, PFC, (1942-1943)
  • Bakewell, Charles Henry, PFC, (1943-1944)
  • Ballman, Francis Lawrence, Sgt, (1942-1943)
  • Barker, Donald Elmer, SSgt, (1942-1943)
  • Bartlett, Dewey Follett, Capt, (1942-1953)
  • Beard, Walter Abner, PFC, (1942-1943)
  • Beauchamp, Walter Alfred, Cpl, (1942-1944)
  • Begay, Ned, PFC, (1943-1945)
  • Behnisch, Lester Charles, Cpl, (1942-1943)
  • Bibee, Leonard Earl, Pvt, (1942-1943)
  • Birchfield, Joseph Adam, PFC, (1941-1943)
  • Blakeslee, Wilbur Howard, 1stLt, (1938-1943)
  • Boehm, Sr., Harold, Col, (1939-1965)
  • Bower, Carl Franklin, Cpl, (1942-1943)
  • Boyd, William Clay, SSgt, (1941-1945)
  • Brice, William, Gen, (1917-1956)
  • Brom, Cyril, Cpl, (1942-1946)
  • Brown, Arnold W, SSgt, (1942-1945)
  • Brown, Edward Taggart, 1stLt, (1942-1943)
  • Brown, Theron Hart, Capt, (1941-1943)
  • Bruno, Joseph John, PFC, (1943-1943)
  • Brush, George Edward, PltSgt, (1940-1943)
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