Service Number: O-008634
Birth and Early Life:
Richard “Dick” Haring was born in Massachusetts in 1916. He grew up in Muskegon, Michigan, with his parents and grandfather Milton, attended Muskegon Junior College with the class of 1939, then transfered to Western State (now Western Michigan University). He was known for his tenacity, a trait which served him well as a YMCA counselor and in his flight training courses as MJC.
Enlistment and Boot Camp:
Haring enlisted in the Navy at Grosse Isle on July 10, 1941. He was accepted for training as an aviator, and earned his wings with the Marine Corps at Pensacola, Florida.
Lieutenant Haring joined VMF-212 on April 17, 1942. His squadron was stationed at Efate and tasked with the defense of the New Hebrides until another squadron could be equipped to take over; beginning in August, cadres of pilots began to shuttle aircraft via forward via aircraft carrier to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. Haring’s turn came in the second week of September.
Date Of Loss:
Lieutenant Haring rose early on September 13, 1942. He crossed the carrier’s flight deck, climbed into a waiting F4F Wildcat, and fired up the engine. Eighteen fighters lifted off, formed up on Major Frederick R. Payne, and set a course for Guadalcanal’s Henderson Field. They touched down at 0730, much to the relief of the “Bulldogs” and “Bengals” of VMFs 223 and 224 – the Cactus Air Force was down to eight operable fighters.
Any of the “Hell Hounds” hoping to catch up on sleep at Henderson were soon to be disappointed. While the newly-arrived aircraft were being checked over and refueled, reports of an approaching Japanese force reached the tower. Cactus’ alert fighters were soon in the air, and pilots from VMF-212 rushed to any available fighters sitting on the tarmac. Haring picked F4F-4 #04105 and followed his regular section leader, Lieutenant Jack Conger, into the air.
The visiting pilots were about to learn a harsh lesson about the state of readiness of Cactus’ aircraft. Upon reaching 24,000 feet, Haring’s Wildcat abruptly pitched forward and dove for the ground. Conger shouted to Haring over the radio but received no response; later, it was believed that Haring’s oxygen system had shorted out, rendering him unconscious. The Wildcat bored into a hill southwest of the airfield and exploded, leaving a huge column of smoke. Richard Haring was killed in the impact; his remains were never recovered. (1)
Haring was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross:
For heroism and extraordinary achievement while attached to a Marine Fighting Squadron in action against enemy Japanese forces on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on September 13, 142. In spite of the fact that he had just completed a long, tiring, and difficult over-water flight, Second Lieutenant HARING after delivering a new fighter plane to Guadalcanal, immediately volunteered to intercept a formation of twenty-eight enemy bombers and twenty fighters. Flying an unassigned combat plane, he took off after the Japanese forces. His fervent desire to engage the enemy and courageous devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Next Of Kin:
Parents, Harry & Margaret Haring
Status Of Remains:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
Oakwood Cemetery, Muskegon, MI.
Haring Field on Efate was named in his honor.
(1) Lundstrom, John. First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign, page 206. Lundstrom continues: “A week later, some of [coastwatcher] Snowy Rhoades’s natives brought in Haring’s effects from a wreck they had located about 10 miles from the field.” It is not known what became of Haring’s remains.
(2) Probably buried near his wreck site. “Body of 2nd. Lt. R. Haring VMF-223 found by scouts who were instructed to destroy plane, bury body and retain effects.” War Diary, MAG-23 Forward Echelon, September 20, 1942.