PEOPLE--UNITED STATES

Captain David McCampbell, USN, (1910-1996)

David McCampbell was born on 16 January 1910 in Bessemer, Alabama. Appointed to the Naval Academy from Florida, he graduated in June 1933. However, economy measures resulting from the Great Depression delayed receipt of his commission as an Ensign in the regular Navy until a year later. Reporting to USS Portland, he later served with Scouting Squadron Eleven on board that cruiser. In May 1937, he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade and soon began flight training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. Designated a Naval Aviator in April 1938, he served with Fighting Squadron Four (VF-4) on USS Ranger. Later transferred to the Air Group on the new aircraft carrier Wasp, McCampbell was promoted to Lieutenant in May 1941. On 15 September 1942, during the Guadalcanal Campaign, Wasp was sunk by Japanese submarine I-19. A month later he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and returned to the United States, subsequently serving at Naval Air Stations at Jacksonville and Melbourne, Florida.

Prior to his January 1944 promotion to Commander, McCampbell commanded Fighting Squadron 15 (VF-15), attached to USS Essex, and shortly afterwards was placed in charge of that ship's air group. Leading his aviators against an attacking force of eighty Japanese aircraft during the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19 June 1944, he destroyed seven of the enemy planes. Four months later, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf on 24 October, he shot down nine more, disorganizing a sixty plane hostile strike group. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" on these occasions, McCampbell was awarded the Medal of Honor. During his tour of duty as Essex's Air Group Fifteen, he became the U.S. Navy's leading ace, credited with downing a total of 34 Japanese aircraft. The entire air group was credited with 315 planes shot down in aerial combat, 348 more destroyed on the ground, nearly 300,000 tons of enemy shiping sunk and an even greater tonnage damaged.

From March 1945 until January 1947, McCampbell served as Chief of Staff to Commander, Fleet Air, Quonset Point, and as Commander, Carrier Air Groups, Hampton Roads, Virginia. He was then at the Armed Forces Staff College as both a student and as a staff member. In October 1948, he became the Senior Naval Aviation Advisor to the Argentine Navy. Service as Executive Officer of USS Franklin D. Roosevelt followed during most of 1951 and into the following year. Assigned to the Headquarters of Commander Aircraft Atlantic at Norfolk in March 1952, McCampbell was promoted to Captain in July. The following summer, he commanded the Naval Air Technical Training Center at Jacksonville, Florida, then had duty as Flight Test Coordinator at Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. After a 1956-1958 tour with Commander, Sixth Fleet, he was Captain of the oiler Severn and, in 1959-1960, the aircraft carrier Bon Homme Richard. Beginning in May 1960, he served in the Nation's Capital with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Bureau of Naval Personnel. In August 1962, Captain McCampbell received orders to the staff of Commander in Chief, Continental Air Defense Command. He retired from active duty in 1964. David McCampbell died on 30 June 1996 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

USS McCampbell (DDG-85), (2002-____), is named in honor of Captain David McCampbell.

This page features all the images we have concerning David McCampbell.

Photo #: NH 106305

Commander David McCampbell, USN


Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 223.
David McCampbell was awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" while serving as Commander, Air Group Fifteen, during combat against Japanese aerial forces in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of the Leyte Gulf, 19 June and 24 October 1944.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 53KB; 580 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #:80-G-K-2179 (Color)

Commander David McCampbell, USN,
(Commander, Air Group Fifteen)

Poses in the cockpit of his F6F "Hellcat" on board USS Essex (CV-9), circa early October 1944.
Note 21 "kills" marked on the plane, the number credited to Cdr. McCampbell as of this time.

Note: In a letter written in 1982, McCampbell said that the photographer was Joe Rosenthal.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 58KB; 520 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-K-2181 (Color)

Commander David McCampbell, USN,
(Commander, Air Group Fifteen)

Poses in the cockpit of his F6F " Hellcat" Fighter, on board USS Essex (CV-9) circa early October 1944.
Note 21 "kills" recorded as of the date of the photograph.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 54KB; 590 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-K-2178 (Color)

Commander David McCampbell, USN,
(Commander, Air Group Fifteen)

Poses in the cockpit of his F6F "Hellcat" on board USS Essex (CV-9), circa late October 1944.
Note 30 "kills" marked on the plane.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 73KB; 580 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-373673

Commander David McCampbell, USN,

(Commander, Air Group Fifteen)

In the cockpit of his F6F "Hellcat" fighter on board USS Essex (CV-9), 30 October 1944.
The Japanese flags represent his thirty "kills" by that date, nine of which were made in one action on 24 October 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 91KB; 580 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-258198

Commander David McCampbell, USN,

(Commander, Air Group Fifteen)

In the cockpit of his F6F "Hellcat" fighter, showing flags denoting 30 Japanese planes he has shot down. The F6F is on board USS Essex (CV-9), 29 October 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 90KB; 575 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-K-687 (Color)

USS Wasp (CV-7)

Lieutenant David McCampbell, Landing Signal Officer, bringing in planes, circa late 1941 or early 1942.
Behind him is the Assistant Landing Signal Officer, Ensign George E. "Doc" Savage. In the catwalk in the lower center are Len Ford (enlisted man) and Lieutenant Hawley Russell.

Caption details were provided by Capt. David McCampbell, USN(Ret), in 1982.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 98KB; 740 x 610 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-K-688 (Color)

USS Wasp (CV-7)

Lieutenant David McCampbell, USN, Landing Signal Officer, bringing in planes, circa late 1941 or early 1942. Behind him is George E. "Doc" Savage, USN, Assistant Landing Signal Officer. In catwalk, foreground, are Len Ford (an enlisted man), USN, and Lieutenant Hawley Russell, USN.
Note F4F "Wildcats" in background, overhead.

Caption information provided by Captain David McCampbell, USN (Retired) in 1982.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 53KB; 740 x 590 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-7085

USS Wasp
(CV-7)

Launching officer, Lieutenant David McCampbell, USN, gets the ready signal from the pilot of a British Royal Air Force "Spitfire", just before it took off for Malta, 9 May 1942.
This was Wasp's second Malta reinforcement mission. Note deck crewmen holding the plane back.
A Grumman F4F-4 "Wildcat" is in the background.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection

Online Image: 53KB; 740 x 600 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-373647

Grumman F6F "Hellcat" Fighter


Undergoing maintainance on board USS Essex (CV-9), which is at anchor off Saipan, 30 July 1944.
This plane is "Minsi II," belonging to the Essex Air Group Commander, Commander David McCampbell, USN.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection.
Online Image: 53KB; 740 x 600 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: NH 106328

U.S. Navy Fighting Squadron Fifteen (VF-15)


Squadron's top pilots pose On board USS Essex (CV-9) at the end of a six-month tour of duty in the Pacific, that included the Battles of the Philippine Sea (June 1944), Leyte Gulf (October 1944) and many other actions.Photo is dated 1 December 1944 and was released on 4 December 1944.
The original caption states, in part: "Each pilot is credited with five or more enemy planes ... their tally reads: 310 enemy planes shot down in combat, with half a million tons of Japanese shipping sunk or damaged. ... The squadron's victorious score card is shown in the foreground."
Commander David McCampbell, Commanding Officer of VF-15's parent unit, Air Group 15, is standing just to right of the score card. His Grumman F6F "Hellcat" fighter (nicknamed "Minsi III") is in the background, with Japanese flags painted below its cockpit representing thirty-four "kills".
For a list of those present, as identified in the original caption, see: Photo # NH 106328 (complete caption).

Collection of Rear Admiral Samuel E. Morison, USN, (Retired).

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, Naval History and Heritage Command collection.

Online Image: 41KB; 740 x 535 pixels

 


Medal of Honor citation of Commander David McCampbell, USN (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 223):

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commander, Air Group FIFTEEN, during combat against enemy Japanese aerial forces in the First and Second Battles of the Philippine Sea. An inspiring leader, fighting boldly in the face of terrific odds, Commander McCampbell led his fighter planes against a force of 80 Japanese carrier-based aircraft bearing down on our fleet on 19 June 1944. Striking fiercely in valiant defense of our surface force, he personally destroyed seven hostile planes during this single engagement in which the outnumbering attack force was utterly routed and virtually annihilated. During a major fleet engagement with the enemy on 24 October, Commander McCampbell, assisted by but one plane, intercepted and daringly attacked a formation of 60 hostile land-based craft approaching our forces. Fighting desperately but with superb skill against such overwhelming air power, he shot down nine Japanese planes and, completely disorganizing the enemy group, forced the remainder to abandon the attack before a single aircraft could reach the fleet. His great personal valor and indomitable spirit of aggression under extremely perilous combat conditions reflect the highest credit upon Commander McCampbell and the United States Naval Service."


For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

To the best of our knowledge, the pictures referenced here are all in the Public Domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.





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