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First Name: Robert

Last Name: Hanson

Birthplace: Lucknow, IND

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Murray

Date of Birth: 04 February 1920

Date of Death: 03 February 1944

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served: 1942 - 1944
Robert Murray Hanson
'Butcher Bob'

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Robert Murray 'Butcher Bob' Hanson
First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

First Lieutenant Robert Murray 'Butcher Bob' Hanson (4 February 1920 - 3 February 1944) was a U.S. Marine Corps officer and aviator who shot down 25 Japanese planes from the South Pacific skies. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

Robert Murray Hanson was born on 4 February 1920, the son of Methodist missionaries who were in Lucknow, India, at the time of his birth. In Lucknow, his playmates were Hindu children. After attending junior high school in the U.S., he returned to India to become light-heavyweight and heavy-weight wrestling champion of the United Provinces.

Marine Corps Service

In the spring of 1938, on his way back to the U.S. to attend college, he bicycled his way through Europe and was in Vienna during the Anschluss. Though attending Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted for naval flight training in May 1942 and earned his wings and a Marine Corps commission as Second Lieutenant on 19 February 1943 in Corpus Christi, TX.

First Lieutenant Hanson arrived in the South Pacific in June 1943 and his daring tactics and total disregard for death soon became well known. A master of individual air combat, he downed 20 enemy planes in six consecutive flying days. 1stLt Hanson was commended in the citation accompanying the Medal of Honor for his bold attack against six enemy torpedo bombers on 1 November 1943, over Bougainville Island, and for bringing down four Zeros, the premier Japanese fighter, while fighting them alone over New Britain on 24 January 1944.

A member of VMF-215 flying the F4U Corsair, the ace was shot down only once before his final flight, when a Zero caught him over Bougainville Island. Bringing his plane down on the ocean, he paddled for six hours in a rubber life raft before being rescued by a destroyer.

His fatal crash occurred one day before his twenty-fourth birthday. Last seen 3 February 1944, when his plane crashed into the sea while he was flying an escort mission over Rabaul, New Britain, he was subsequently declared killed in action.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

Place and date: Bougainville Island and New Britain Island, 1 November 1943 and 24 January 1944.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and above and beyond the call of duty as fighter pilot attached to Marine Fighting Squadron 215 in action against enemy Japanese forces at Bougainville Island, 1 November 1943; and New Britain Island, 24 January 1944. Undeterred by fierce opposition, and fearless in the face of overwhelming odds, 1st Lt. Hanson fought the Japanese boldly and with daring aggressiveness. On 1 November, while flying cover for our landing operations at Empress Augusta Bay, he dauntlessly attacked 6 enemy torpedo bombers, forcing them to jettison their bombs and destroying 1 Japanese plane during the action. Cut off from his division while deep in enemy territory during a high cover flight over Simpson Harbor on 24 January, 1st Lt. 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 4 Zeroes 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 U.S. Naval Service.

First Lieutenant Robert Murray Hanson's Medal of Honor was presented to his mother by MajGen Lewie G. Merritt on 19 August 1944 in Boston, MA.

Awards and Medals

Medal of Honor
Navy Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Medal
Purple Heart


A distinguished destroyer, the USS Hanson DD832 (1945 to 1973) with 15 battle stars was named in honor of First Lieutenant Robert Murray Hanson.

Death and Burial

First Lieutenant Robert Murray Hanson was killed in action on 3 February 1944. His body is lost at sea. A memorial stone for Hanson is located at Newton Cemetery and Crematory in Newton, Middlesex County, MA.

His name is also inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila, Manila City, Philippines.

Honoree ID: 1427   Created by: MHOH




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