Deblanc, Jefferson J, Col

Deceased
 
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 Service Details
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Last Rank
Colonel
Last Primary MOS
7591-Naval Flight Officer VMAW
Last MOSGroup
Pilots/Naval Flight Officers
Primary Unit
1945-1972, 7591, 8th Marine Corps Reserve Recruiting District
Service Years
1941 - 1972

Colonel

 
 

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 Personal Details 

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Home State
Louisiana
Louisiana
Year of Birth
1921
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by GySgt David R. Marcussen to remember Marine Col Jefferson J Deblanc.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Lockport

Date of Passing
Dec 06, 2007
 
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Last Known Activity
After service with VMF-112, served with VMF-422 in Central Pacific and Okinawa campaigns. Following active duty served in the Marine Corps Reserves (1946-1972) attaining the grade of Colonel. Served as CO for MARTG-18 at NAS New Orleans. Principle post-war career involved education, serving as a secondary school physics, electronics and math teacher. Instructed in the Department of Defense (DoD) International Schools system in Brunsum, Holland (1974-1979). Continues education activity with Saint Martinville, LA school system. Military service awards include: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Air Medal, and the Purple Heart. Active in community affairs with many organizations.
   
Other Comments:
NY Times December 6, 2007
Jefferson DeBlanc, Hero Pilot, Dies at 86
By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN
Jefferson J. DeBlanc, a World War II fighter pilot who was awarded the Medal of Honor for shooting down five Japanese planes on a single day while running out of fuel, died Nov. 22 in Lafayette, La. He was 86 and lived St. Martinville, La..

The cause was complications of pneumonia, said his daughter, Barbara DeBlanc Romero.

On Jan. 31, 1943, Mr. DeBlanc, then a lieutenant in the Marines, took off from Guadalcanal in his Wildcat fighter, leading a six-plane section of Marine Fighting Squadron 112. They were assigned to protect dive bombers and torpedo planes attacking Japanese ships off the island of Kolombangara, in the Solomons chain.

Mr. DeBlanc became embroiled in a furious air battle as Japanese planes pounced on the American aircraft. His fighter was using fuel at an unexpectedly rapid rate and he could have returned to his base, but he pressed his attacks.

"We needed all the guns we could get up there to escort those dive bombers," he told The Times-Picayune of New Orleans in a 1999 interview. "I figured if I run out of gas, I run out of gas. I figured I could survive a bailout. You've got to live with your conscience. And my conscience told me to go ahead."

In the span of a few minutes, he shot down five Japanese planes, but soon afterward his fighter was hit by enemy aircraft fire that knocked his watch from his wrist, peppered him with shrapnel and set his plane afire.

He parachuted into the ocean, then swam for some six hours, making it ashore at Japanese-occupied Kolombangara. He hoped to steal a Japanese Zero fighter and fly it to Guadalcanal, but after resting for several days in an abandoned hut, he was seized by a group of tribesmen who poked at his sunburned skin, fascinated at how it turned white when prodded by their sticks.

"I could see myself in the pot," he recalled long afterward.

He was placed in a bamboo cage and heard the beating of drums, seemingly the transmission of messages to tribal elders seeking word on how to deal with him.

The next day, deliverance arrived. Another tribesman was carrying a gift for his captors.

"This guy came in and threw down a 10-pound sack of rice, which he stole from the Japanese," Mr. DeBlanc remembered in a 2000 interview with The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La. "He threw it down at their feet, and they picked it up and let me go. From then on, I felt safe."

His rescuer was affiliated with the coast watchers, mainly Australians and Pacific islanders who spied on Japanese plane and ship movements in the Solomons and helped rescue downed Allied pilots. Mr. DeBlanc was taken to a nearby island by islanders who were sympathetic to the Americans, and a United States Navy patrol plane picked him up.

Mr. DeBlanc, who had shot down three Japanese bombers off Guadalcanal the previous fall, later downed another Japanese plane off Okinawa, giving him nine "kills" in the war.

President Harry S. Truman presented him with the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, on Dec. 6, 1946. Recounting Mr. DeBlanc's exploits off Kolombangara, the citation said that he had "remained on the scene despite a rapidly diminishing fuel supply" and had waged "a valiant battle against terrific odds."

Mr. DeBlanc, a native of Lockport, La., left active military service after the war, received a doctorate in education from McNeese State University and taught mathematics and science in St. Martinville. He retired from the Marines in 1972 as a colonel in the Reserves.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his sons, Jefferson Jr., of Church Point, La.; Richard, of Coteau Holmes, La.; Frank, of St. Martinville; and Michael, of Parks, La.; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. His wife, Louise, died in 2005.

Examining diaries left behind by coast watchers, Mr. DeBlanc eventually learned the identity of the man who had saved him. He returned to the Solomons in May 2000 to thank the rescuer, Atitao Lodukolo. Mr. Lodukolo was a frail 95 years old by then, getting around with the aid of a walking stick.

Mr. DeBlanc and Mr. Lodukolo posed together for a video camera, and then they exchanged salutes in a final farewell.

"How about that?" Mr. DeBlanc remarked later. "That's full circle."
   
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Naval Flight Officer

 
 Unit Assignments
USMC (United States Marine Corps)NAS Corpus Christi TX2nd MAWVMFA-112
VMFA-122 (Crusaders)Fleet Marine Force Pacific (FMFPAC)MAG-32Aviation Units
VMF-422VMFA-2128th Marine Corps Reserve Recruiting District
  1941-1941, 7591, USMC (United States Marine Corps)
  1941-1942, 7591, NAS Corpus Christi TX
  1942-1942, 7591, 2nd MAW/H&HS
  1942-1942, 7591, 2nd MAW/Advanced Carrier Training Group
  1942-1943, 7591, VMFA-112
  1943-1943, 7591, VMFA-122 (Crusaders)
  1943-1943, 7591, Marine Base Defense Air Group 41/Headquarters Squadron 41
  1943-1944, 7591, MAG-32/H&HS-32
  1944-1944, 7591, VMFA-461
  1944-1945, 7591, VMF-422
  1945-1945, 7591, VMFA-212
  1945-1972, 7591, 8th Marine Corps Reserve Recruiting District
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1945 World War II
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-43)/Battle of Tulagi (including First Savo)
  1943-1943 New Georgia Group Operation /Battle of Kolombangara
  1945-1945 Ryukyus Campaign (1945)/Battle for Okinawa
 Colleges Attended
University of Louisiana at LafayetteLouisiana State University at Baton RougeLouisiana State University at Baton RougeMcNeese State University
  1939-1941, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  1948-1951, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge
  1960-1963, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge
  1972-1973, McNeese State University
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