Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

DeBlanc, Jefferson J.

DeBlanc, Jefferson J.

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Colonel, USMCR, (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.


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