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  • Gaudacanal & Okinawa fighter ace Medal of Honor Jeff De Blanc signed photo

8x10 inch photo signed by Jeff De Blanc.

 

Jefferson Joseph DeBlanc (February 15, 1921 – November 22, 2007) was a World War II Marine Corps fighter pilot and ace — shooting down nine Japanese aircraft during two tours of duty in the Pacific at Guadalcanal and Okinawa — and a Medal of Honor recipient.

 

MEDAL OF HONOUR ACTION

 

On 31 January, First Lieutenant DeBlanc was flying a Wildcat over Japanese-held Kolombangara island in the Solomons Islands leading eight F4F Wildcats from VMF-112 on an escort mission for a strike force of 12 Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers sent to attack Japanese shipping. En route to the target area, DeBlanc discovered and reported to Guadalcanal that his fighter had developed a serious fuel leak which made return to base unlikely and he requested that rescue forces be alerted.

 

Leading the escorts directly to the target area, DeBlanc and the other Wildcats observed a pair of Mitsubishi F1M "Pete" float planes attacking the Dauntlesses from above and behind, and he dove to disrupt their attack. DeBlanc's aircraft was fired at by the rear gunners on the "Petes", but he maneuvered evasively and pressed home an attack on the first, exploding it, then maneuvered and took the second under fire, hitting it in the fuel tanks and setting it afire. Although the SBDs hit their targets successfully, and the escort mission was completed, DeBlanc remained in the target area to cover the withdrawal of the Dauntlesses, despite a critically low fuel supply, and began a climb back to altitude.

 

By this time, night was falling, but DeBlanc observed a formation of Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar" Imperial Japanese Army fighters headed for the dive bombers. Surprising them from beneath, he damaged one and shot down its wingman when the latter left the formation. The others broke off their attack of the dive bombers and turned on the Wildcats. DeBlanc and his wingman attempted to defend themselves using the Thach Weave, but his wingman swung too wide during the maneuver and was shot down. DeBlanc himself was saved when a third Wildcat, approaching from head-on, overflew his aircraft and forced a pursuing "Oscar" to dive away.

 

DeBlanc attempted to disengage but was attacked by two more "Oscars". He turned towards them in a climbing head-on attack, and the first exploded in the exchange of fire. The second maneuvered behind him, however, but DeBlanc managed to slow his Wildcat abruptly and force his remaining opponent to overshoot him, and he also shot it down for his fifth victory of the day. DeBlanc was then surprised by a fighter he had not detected. Rounds struck his aircraft, ripped his wrist watch from his arm, smashed the instrument panel, and set afire the Wildcat's engine. DeBlanc was forced to bail out at low altitude over Vella Gulf near Japanese-held Kolombangara. The total time of the action from arrival in the target area to his own bailout was approximately five minutes.

 

Landing in the sea, DeBlanc discovered that he was badly wounded in the back, arms and legs. Supported only by his life jacket, he swam for the beach. After six hours in the water, he reached shore, and for three days subsisted on coconuts he found in an abandoned hut while his wounds went unattended. He was taken by a group of indigenous people who bartered him for a sack of rice to another tribe that hid him and cared for his wounds. 

 

The tribal members carried DeBlanc by outrigger canoe to the home of an Anglican missionary, who forwarded him to two Coastwatchers, who immediately attempted contact with the Allied authorities by clandestine radio. On 12 February, three days before his 22nd birthday, a Navy PBY Catalina patrol bomber landed in the sea off the island and tribal members paddled DeBlanc out to it in a canoe. He was flown back to his base and to the hospital.

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Gaudacanal & Okinawa fighter ace Medal of Honor Jeff De Blanc signed photo

  • Availability: In Stock
  • £20.00