Wisconsin Public Radio reporter Mike Simonson and the late Jim Packard have been named winners of a National Headliner Award for their documentary titled “Forever Ace: The Richard Bong Story.”
According to a news release issued Monday:
The piece, which aired on Veteran’s Day last year, received the first place award in the “Broadcast radio networks and syndicators documentary or public affairs” category.
Placing second in that category was “An Occupational Hazard: Rape in the Military,” by reporters for SiriusXM Radio in Washington, D.C.; third place was awarded to Colorado Public Radio in Centennial, Colo., for a series called “Colorado Matters.”
The two hour long “Forever Ace: The Richard Bong Story,” narrated by WPR’s Packard, includes a compilation of ten years of interviews by WPR Superior bureau (KUWS FM) reporter Simonson and his WPR colleagues. Simonson wrote and produced “Forever Ace.” Packard worked out of Madison and was a co-host with Michael Feldman on “Whad’Ya Know.”
The award-winning Richard Bong piece can be heard at www.kuws.fm (scroll to the third story on the home page) or in two parts at http://wpr.org/webcasting/audioarchives_display.cfm?Code=spl
Bong’s wingman, tent mate and crew chief during his service in the South Pacific are interviewed in the story, as are friends and members of his family including his widow Marjorie Bong-Drucker. In addition, historians from the United States Air Force Academy and the Australian War Museum also talk about the significance of the time Bong served in World War II and the legacy he leaves today.
The story also includes popular Big Band music from World War II and vintage audio clips of Richard Bong when he was on stateside leave. Major Bong’s record of 40 kills has never been equaled by an American pilot.
Many of the veterans featured in this documentary were interviewed after visiting the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in Superior. All of them thought it was important to share memories of serving with Bong from 1942 until 1945.