Phil Long was born in Ponca City, Oklahoma in 1918 where he lived until the eighth grade. He went to highschool at Principia Academy and college at Principia College in Missouri, graduating in 1940. After one year of law school at the University of Michigan, Mr. Long enlisted in the United States Navy.
In 1942 World War II was raging, Phil Long had mastered his training as a Hellcat fighter pilot in the South Pacific. He successfully flew 120 missions from the USS Enterprise, the most decorated ship of this era. Twice he was shot down by the enemy. The USS Enterprise and Task Force 58 spent nearly a month in the Mariana Islands, preparing for and supporting the Saipan landings on June 15th, 1944, striking targets on Guam and Rota, and engaging in the greatest carrier aircraft battle in history: the Battle of the Philippine Sea, June 19-20th, 1944. The USS Enterprise played a significant role in the battle: her Combat Information Center (CIC) directed much of the action during the “Turkey Shoot” on the 19th, while an Air Group Ten search was the first to locate the Japanese fleet on the afternoon of the 20th. The growing number of successful night air missions, led by the Big E’s VF(N)-101 and VT-10 squadrons is notable. During this campaign Task Force 58 was attacked by the aircraft of the Japanese Fleet in successive waves. Lt. Commander M.P. Long and the USS Enterprise Hellcat (task force) fighters joined the Combat Air Patrol in intercepting the Japanese attacks and bombing Orote Airfield on Guam. Throughout the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Task Force Fighters carried out strikes on Guam and the Pagan Islands neutralizing enemy airfields and destroying defense guns and military installations.
Upon coming home, Phil was a highly decorated soldier because of his part in the dangerous yet successful mission. Awards he received included the Air Medal and Gold Star award for multiple meritorious achievements and heroic acts during aerial flight; and the Navy and Marine Presidential Unit Citation for gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing a mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions.
Phil Long was honorably discharged In September 1945 at the rank of Lieutenant Commander. One month later, he and R. Doenges purchased Vollmer Brothers Ford and changed the name to Doenges-Long Ford, thus beginning more than a half century legacy of car dealerships.
By 1964 he bought out Doenges, changed the name to Phil Long Ford, Inc. and moved the dealership to what is now known as Motor City.