Bong, the son of Swedish immigrant parents, grew up on a farm in Poplar, Wisconsin, as one of nine children. He became interested in aircraft at an early age and was a avid model builder.
He began studying at Superior State Teachers College in 1938. While there, Bong enrolled in the Civilian Pilot Training Program and also took private flying lessons. In 1941 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program. One of his flight instructors was Capt. Barry Goldwater (later Senator from Arizona). Bong’s ability as a fighter pilot was recognized at training in northern California. He received his wings and commission as a second lieutenant on January 19, 1942, and became a gunnery instructor.
Wiki – Richard Bong