James Elms Swett was born on June 15, 1920 in Seattle, Washington. After attending junior college in San Mateo, CA he joined the USMCR. On March 16, 1943 Swett arrived on Guadalcanal with squadron VMF-221.
On April 7, 1943, Swett took off piloting F4F Wildcat 12084 on a mission to intercept D3A Val dive bombers attacking Tulagi. He was credited with seven by the USMC. Later, Swett claimed: “Actually I shot down eight of those Japanese dive bombers,” he told The Oregonian. “I’m still mad at the Marine Corps for confirming only seven.”
Later War Service
He later flew from the aircraft carrier Bunker Hill and carried out strikes supporting the Iwo Jima and Okinawa invasions in 1945. By the end of the war, he had flown 103 missions, was credited with 16 Japanese planes and sharing in the destruction of one plus nine probables. Swett earned: the Medal of Honor, eight Distinguished Flying Crosses, and the Air Medal and two Purple Hearts.
Until 1950, Swett remained on active duty. In 1960, he worked for his father's industrial machinery business in San Francisco until he retired in 1983. In 1970, he retired from the Marine Corps reserve as a Colonel.
Swett passed away on January 18, 2009 in Redding, CA. He is buried at Northern California Veterans Cemetery at section 4, site 329.
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List - April 1943
X Attack of I-Operation: The Anti-shipping Mission to the Guadalcanal-Tulagi Area on April 7, 1943 by Richard Dunn pages 2, 16, 32, 36, 43-44, 47-48
FindAGrave - James Elms Swett (phtoto, grave photo)