Bob Bourgeois was born on September 28, 1917, in Lecompte, Louisiana. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on October 14, 1939, and after completing basic training, bombsight maintenance school, and bombardier training he served as a B-25 Mitchell bombardier and aircraft maintenance specialist with the 37th Bomb Squadron of the 17th Bomb Group before being selected for the Doolittle Mission in February 1942. Sgt Bourgeois was the bombardier on the 13th B-25 to take off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) on April 18, 1942, and after bombing enemy shipping and supplies at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, the crew flew to China and bailed out when their aircraft ran out of fuel. He remained in the China-Burma-India Theater flying combat missions until he returned to the United States in July 1943. Sgt Bourgeois was commissioned a Flight Officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces on January 16, 1944, and served as a Bombsight Maintenance Officer until leaving active duty on March 9, 1946. He reenlisted as a Master Sergeant in the Army Air Forces on April 2, 1946, and completed Engine Mechanic training and B-29 Superfortress training before serving in Alaska from October 1947 to March 1948. MSgt Bourgeois served as an aircraft maintenance supervisor with the 97th Field Maintenance Squadron at Biggs AFB, Texas, until April 1956, when he transferred to the 44th Field Maintenance Squadron of the 44th Bomb Wing at Lake Charles AFB (later redesignated Chennault AFB), Louisiana. In October 1959, MSgt Bourgeois was hospitalized at Lackland AFB, Texas, and he was medically retired from the Air Force on January 12, 1960. Bob Bourgeois died on November 13, 2001, and was buried at Lake Lawn Cemetery and Mausoleum in New Orleans, Louisiana.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary achievement while participating in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland on April 18, 1942. Sergeant Bourgeois volunteered for this mission knowing full well that the chances of survival were extremely remote, and executed his part in it with great skill and daring. This achievement reflects high credit on Sergeant Bourgeois and the military service.