WWII Ace Shot Down Five Japanese Aircraft
Aero-News was saddened to learn
retired Marine Col. Jefferson DeBlanc Sr. -- who won the Medal of
Honor during World War II as an ace fighter pilot -- has gone west
at the age of 86.
DeBlanc earned the Medal of Honor, the US military’s
highest honor for bravery, for actions during an air raid against
the Japanese in the Solomon Islands on January 31, 1943, according
to the Associated Press.
The young lieutenant in his early twenties was the leader of six
planes that provided air cover.
Flying an F4F Grumman Wildcat, he downed two Japanese float
planes and one fighter before returning for the naval base at
Henderson Field. He then spotted two Japanese planes climbing up
behind the bombers.
His entire group was low on fuel, so Henderson ordered the rest
of his flight squadron to return. He personally took on and shot
down the two enemy aircraft, knowing he would likely not have
enough fuel to return safely.
The F4F was shot up and DeBlanc parachuted into the ocean, where
he swam all night to reach Kolombarangara Island. Henderson was
then captured by local natives... and traded to another tribe for
rice. He was later picked up by a Navy float plane and returned to
DeBlanc was decorated several times for his war actions in
He said after he had shot down the five planes, he checked his
watch... which flew off his hand a split-second later when his
instrument panel was peppered with bullets and burst in his
Once down, he then used a Japanese uniform stolen from a barge
and traveled incognito at night to get closer to American forces
where he could be rescued.
DeBlanc went on to see action in several other campaigns in the
After the war he returned to St. Martinville, LA where he was a
school teacher and became an administrator. He later retired from
the Marine Corps Reserve in 1972.
DeBlanc died last Thursday, from complications from pneumonia,
according to the Houma (LA) Courier.