|Pilot 1st Lt. Jefferson
J. DeBlanc (survived) Lockport, LA
Crashed January 31, 1943
Built by Grumman Corporation in Bethpage, New York as a model G-36 with manually operated folding wings. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN) as F4F-4 Wildcat bureau number 03520.
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to 1st Marine Air Wing (MAW-1), Marine Air Group 11 (MAG-11) to squadron VMF-112 "Wolf Pack". Nicknamed "Impatient Virgin".
On January 31, 1943 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by 1st Lt. Jefferson
J. DeBlanc one of eight Wildcats on a mission to escort twelve SBD Dauntless dive bombers on a mission to dive bomb Japanese transports bound for Vila on Kolombangara Island including Toa Maru 2.
The formation was led by Lt James Secrest, F4F "impatient Virgin 03520 piloted by 1st Lt
Jefferson DeBlanc plus Wildcats piloted by Lt. Lynch, Lt. Maas, Lt Hughes and SSgt James
Feliton. After take off, two Wildcats aborted the mission due to mechanical problems
while the rest of the planes continued on the mission. The ships were 250 miles away, meaning fuel would permit only 15 minutes
over the target are for the F4F Wildcats.
Over the Toa
Maru 2 the Wildcats encountered enemy aircraft and engaged in a dog fight. Japanese F1M2 Pete floatplanes were escorting the ships along with Ki-43 Oscars from the 11th Sentai, 3rd Chutai (misidentified as Zeros). De Blanc claimed two F1M2 Peted and three Zeros [Oscars] shot down. Low on fuel and he was attacked by Ki-43 Oscar piloted by Sgt Takeo Takahashi set on fire and forced to bail out over Vella Gulf. Also lost was F4F Wildcat 11983 piloted by Feliton (survived).
Landing in the sea, wounded DeBlanc swam for six hours before reaching Kolombangara Island. For three days he lived alone eating coconuts before being located by natives who traded him for a sack of rice to another tribe, who turned him
over to a British Anglican missionary who then notified an Allied coastwatcher that arranged his rescue twelve days after bailing out. Afterwards, De Blanc earned the Medal of Honor for this mission.
Postwar, DeBlanc earning a masters degree in math and a
degree in education. He stayed in the Marine Corps Reserve, retiring in 1972 with the rank of Colonel, after six years as commander of Marine Air Reserve
Group 18 based at NAS Belle Chasse.
DeBlanc passed away on November 22, 2007. He is buried at Saint Michaels Cemetery in Saint Martinville, LA.
Navy Serial Number Search Results - F4F-4 Wildcat 03520
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List January 1943 F4F Wildcat 03446 pilot Deblane [sic]
Jefferson Joseph DeBlanc, Sr (photo, grave photo)
Toa Maru No. 2 by Charles Darby Conservation Development Services, New Zealand
Nakajima’s Fragile Falcon by Jon Guttman painting by Jack Fellows
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July 22, 2018