1st Lt. Jefferson J. DeBlanc
U. S. Marine Corps (USMC), VMF-112
Jefferson Joseph DeBlanc was born on February 15, 1921 in Lockport, Louisiana.
On July 29, 1941 DeBlanc enlisted as a seaman second class in the U. S. Navy Reserve (USNR) and began flight training at Naval Reserve Aviation Base in New Orleans then to NAS Corpus Christi. His Naval enlistment was terminated on October 15 and the next day appointed as an aviation cadet. On May 4, 1942 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve (USMCR) then to San Diego as part of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW-2), headquarters squadron. In July, he was assigned to the Advance Carrier Training Group, where he remained under instruction until August 6, 1942.
During October 1942, assigned to squadron VMF-112 "Wolf Pack". He arrived on Guadalcanal on November 2, 1942 and entered combat with less than ten hours of time in the F4F Wildcat. On November 13, 1942 he claimed three G4M1 Betty bombers attacking ships off Guadalcanal. On December 19, 1942 promoted to 1st Lieutenant. On January 29, 1943 he ditched into Iron Bottom Sound and was rescued by a destroyer and returned to duty.
On January 31, 1943 took off piloting F4F-4 "Impatient Virgin" 03520 one of eight Wildcats that from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal on a mission to escort twelve SBD Dauntless dive bombers attacking Japanese cargo ships bound for Vila on Kolombangara Island including Toa Maru 2. The
target was 250 miles away, meaning fuel would permit only 15 minutes
over the target are for the F4F Wildcats. Japanese seaplanes
were escorting the ships. De Blanc claimed two F1M2 Pete floatplanes,
before A6M Zeros intercepted and De Blanc claimed three Zeros shot down.
Low on fuel and severely damaged,
his plane was set on fire forcing him to bail out. Landing in the sea, wounded DeBlanc swam for six hours to a Japanese-held island
three days on coconuts before being captured by a tribe of natives
who traded him for a sack of rice to another tribe, who turned him
over to a British Anglican missionary who notified an Allied coastwatcher,
that arranged his rescue, twelve days after bailing out. Afterwards, De Blanc earned the Medal of Honor for this mission.
Medal of Honor Citation (January 31, 1943)
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of a section of six fighter planes in Marine Fighting Squadron 112, during aerial operations against enemy Japanese forces off Kolombangara Island in the Solomons group, 31 January 1943. Taking off with his section as escort for a strike force of dive bombers and torpedo planes ordered to attack Japanese surface vessels, 1st Lt. DeBlanc led his flight directly to the target area where, at 14,000 feet, our strike force encountered a large number of Japanese Zeros protecting the enemy's surface craft. In company with the other fighters, 1st Lt. DeBlanc instantly engaged the hostile planes and aggressively countered their repeated attempts to drive off our bombers, persevering in his efforts to protect the diving planes and waging fierce combat until, picking up a call for assistance from the dive bombers, under attack by enemy float planes at 1,000 feet, he broke off his engagement with the Zeros, plunged into the formation of float planes and disrupted the savage attack, enabling our dive bombers and torpedo planes to complete their runs on the Japanese surface disposition and withdraw without further incident. Although his escort mission was fulfilled upon the safe retirement of the bombers, 1st Lt. DeBlanc courageously remained on the scene despite a rapidly diminishing fuel supply and, boldly challenging the enemy's superior number of float planes, fought a valiant battle against terrific odds, seizing the tactical advantage and striking repeatedly to destroy three of the hostile aircraft and to disperse the remainder. Prepared to maneuver his damaged plane back to base, he had climbed aloft and set his course when he discovered two Zeros closing in behind. Undaunted, he opened fire and blasted both Zeros from the sky in a short, bitterly fought action which resulted in such hopeless damage to his own plane that he was forced to bail out at a perilously low altitude atop the trees on enemy-held Kolombangara. A gallant officer, a superb airman, and an indomitable fighter, 1st Lt. DeBlanc had rendered decisive assistance during a critical stage of operations, and his unwavering fortitude in the face of overwhelming opposition reflects the highest credit upon himself and adds new luster to the traditions of the U.S. Naval Service."
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.
Fold3 - Jefferson Deblanc (photos)
Jefferson Joseph DeBlanc, Sr (photo, grave photo)
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