Return to Naval Historical Center home page. Return to Online Library Listing

WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Photo # NH 105855:  Captain Jefferson J. DeBlanc, USMCR

Online Library of Selected Images:

Colonel Jefferson J. DeBlanc, USMCR (Retired), (1921-2007)

Jefferson Joseph DeBlanc was born on 15 February 1921 in Lockport, Louisana. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve from that same state in July 1941. After flight training at New Orleans, Louisana and Corpus Christi, Texas, he was appointed as an Aviation Cadet. In May 1942, DeBlanc was discharged from the Naval Reserve and commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Relocating that Summer to Headquarters Squadron, Second Marine Aircraft Wing located at San Diego, California, he also had instruction with the Advance Carrier Training Group. In October 1942, he was assigned to Marine Fighting Squadron One Hundred Twelve (VMF-112) and left for the Pacific to participate at the Battle of Guadalcanal. In December, he was promoted to First Lieutenant.

On 31 January 1943, DeBlanc served as Leader of a Section of Six Fighter Planes and escorted aircraft ordered to attack and bomb Japanese surface vessels off Kolombanara Island, Solomon Islands. During this mission, he aggressively engaged enemy Zero planes and remained steady when Float Planes joined in the defense. With successful completion of the mission, DeBlanc remained to challenge the enemy. During the subsequent battle, he shot down three Float Planes and two Zeros. With fuel running out and his plane damaged by enemy fire, he bailed out of his plane at low altitude. Landing off Kolombanara Island, he swam to its shore. After a few days, DeBlanc was taken prisoner by indigenous people who then traded him to another indigenous group. He was then taken to an Anglican missionary, where communications to the U.S. Navy by clandestine radio led to his rescue. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" on this occasion, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

DeBlanc was promoted to Captain in June 1943 and reported a month later to Marine Fighting Squadron One Hundred Twenty Two (VMF-122). Returning to the United States, he was assigned to Headquarters Squadron Forty One, Marine Base Defense Air Group Forty One, Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro, California. In March 1944, DeBlanc received orders to Marine Fighting Squadron Four Hundred Sixty One (VMF-461),located at El Centro, California. Returning to the Pacific in November, he served with Marine Fighting Squadron Four Hundred Twenty Two (VMF-422) and participated in the Marshall Islands Campaign. In May 1945, he transferred to Marine Fighting Squadron Two Hundred Twelve (VMF-212) and served in the Okinawa Campaign. Discharged from active duty that December, he continued to serve in the reserves with the Eighth Marine Corps Reserve District and later commanded Marine Air Reserve Group Eighteen. While in the reserves, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel. In July 1972, he retired from the Marine Corps Reserve. On 22 November 2007, Jefferson J. DeBlanc died and was buried at St. Michael Cemetery, St. Martinville, Louisana.

This page features the only image we have concerning Jefferson J. DeBlanc.

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the "Online Library's" digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Photo #: NH 105855

Captain Jefferson J. DeBlanc, USMCR

Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 175.
Jefferson J. DeBlanc was awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" while serving as leader of a section of six Marine Fighting Squadron One Hundred Twelve (VMF-112) fighter planes as they escorted aircraft bombing Japanese surface vessels off Kolombangara Island, Solomon Islands, 31 January 1943. When enemy planes counter attacked, DeBlanc shot down five of them. Due to battle damage and low fuel, he bailed out of his airplane, landing off Kolombangara Island. He was rescued by friendly local residents and, after clandestine radio communications by a coast-watcher, was recovered by a U.S. Navy patrol plane. DeBlanc was a First Lieutenant during this time.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 57KB; 580 x 765 pixels


Medal of Honor citation of Captain Jefferson Joseph De Blanc, USMCR (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 175):

"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 ONE HUNDRED TWELVE, 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, First Lieutenant 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, First Lieutenant DeBlanc instantly engaged the hostile planes and aggressively countered their repeated attempts to drive off our bombers, perservering 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 the 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, First Lieutenant 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, First Lieutenant DeBlanc had rendered decisive assistance during a critical stage of operations, and his unwavering fortitude in the fact of overwhelming opposition reflects the highest credit upon himself and adds new luster to the traditions of the United States Naval Service."

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the "Online Library's" digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Return to Naval Historical Center home page.

Page made 29 June 2008