Captain Richard E. Fleming, USMCR, (1917-1942)

Richard Eugene Fleming was born on 2 November 1917 in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1939, after graduating from the University of Minnesota, he enlisted from that same state in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Completing flight training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, he was designated an aviator and commissioned a Second Lieutenant. Following the United States' entry into World War II, he was promoted to First Lieutenant in April 1942, which was followed by a promotion to Captain a month later.

During the Battle of Midway, Fleming served as a flight officer with Marine Scout Bombing Squadron Two Forty One (VMSB-241). On 4-5 June 1942, when his Squadron Commander was shot down and despite harsh weather, he led his squadron and flew at low altitudes to bomb Japanese vessels. On 5 June, while leading a squadron in a Vought SB2U Vindicator to bomb the Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma, his plane was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire. Unable to pull out, he crashed into sea and was not recovered. For his "extraordinary heroism and conspicuous intrepidity" on this occasion, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Richard E. Fleming is listed on the "Wall of the Missing" at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.

USS Fleming (DE-32), 1943-1945, was named in honor of Captain Richard E. Fleming.

This page features the only image we have concerning Richard E. Fleming.

Photo #: NH 105929

Captain Richard E. Fleming, USMCR

Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 185.
Richard E. Fleming was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for "extraordinary heroism and conspicuous intrepidity" while serving as a Flight Officer with Marine Scout Bombing Squadron Two Forty One (VMSB-241) during action against Japanese forces at the Battle of Midway, 4-5 June 1942.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 78KB; 580 x 765 pixels


Medal of Honor citation of Captain Richard Eugene Fleming, USMCR (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 185):

"For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty as Flight Officer, Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron TWO FORTY-ONE, during action against enemy Japanese forces in the battle of Midway on 4 and 5 June 1942. When his Squadron Commander was shot down during the initial attack upon an enemy aircraft carrier, Captain Fleming led the remainder of the division with such fearless determination that he dived his own plane to the perilously low altitude of 400 feet before releasing his bomb. Although his craft was riddled by 179 hits in the blistering hail of fire that burst upon him from Japanese fighter guns and antiaircraft batteries, he pulled out with only two minor wounds inflicted upon himself. On the night of 4 June, when the Squadron Commander lost his way and became separated from the others, Captain Fleming brought his own plane in for a safe landing at its base despite hazardous weather conditions and total darkness. The following day, after less than 4 hours' sleep, he led the second division of his squadron in a coordinated glide-bombing, and dive-bombing assault upon a Japanese battleship. Undeterred by a fateful approach glide, during which his ship was struck and set afire, he grimly pressed home his attack to an altitude of 500 feet, released his bomb to score a near miss on the stern of his target, then crashed into the sea in flames. His dauntless perseverance and unyielding devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

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