Colonel Phillip C. DeLong Detachment #1267
Marine Corps League, Inc.
The Villages, Florida
Five Japanese Zero fighter pilots sat in their planes awaiting take off from the Solomon Islands on 23 January 1944. They had no idea that they were in for the worst and possibly the last day of their lives thanks to U.S. Marine First Lieutenant Phillip Cunliffe DeLong out of VMF-212 in his F4U Corsair fighter.
While on an escort mission, several Zeros attacked. DeLong helped two fellow pilots shoot down two enemy aircraft. Moments later, he was attacked by five zeros. He outran four of them but circled around to shoot down the other plane as they flew toward each other, OK Corral style. This was just the morning. Later that same day, DeLong and a squadron mate shot down yet another zero.
In the following few weeks, four Val dive-bombers, a Hamp fighter, and another zero were added to his list of victories. During WWII, he flew 69 combat missions with 11.166 aerial victories. He was the “Top Gun” of his Unit and became a feared “Double Ace”!
DeLong’s mystique continued when he fought in the Korean Conflict. He flew 127 combat missions and shot down two enemy Yak fighters. He had the distinction of being the only shooting down enemy aircraft in two “wars” with the same type of aircraft.
DeLong retired from the Marine Corps in 1969 as a Colonel. Among his many personal decorations are The Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with six gold starts, The Air Medal with 16 gold stars, and the Navy Commendation Medal.
DeLong and his wife, Katie moved to The Villages where he resided until his death in 2006.