Marine Ace, Jeff DeBlanc

Captain Jefferson J. DeBlanc

Marine Corp Ace, Medal of Honor, Guadalcanal

Artwork and research is by; Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette

Marine Ace, Jeff DeBlanc

There are 600 limited edition prints in this series. Print Size; 12×18″

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Limited Edition Prints are signed and autographed by the Artist and by the Ace. $65.00

All signatures by both the Aviator and the Artist is done in soft graphic pencil.

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Print $14.95

Poster prints are autographed by the artist only.

The story below is a rough draft. I have finished the final biography where you can find the complete story of Jeff DeBlanc in my first book covering the first half of the War in the Pacific. As soon as the book is available I will have the information here for you to get your own copy. Thank you. Sir Hamilton.

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The painting has been autographed by Jeff. 2×4 Feet, $2,400.00.

All original artworks are available for sale.

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Jefferson DeBlanc

Jeff DeBlanc was born in Lockport, Louisiana on February 15, 1921. His family was from the earliest French families in Louisiana. He was raised in St. Martinville. While Jeff was attending collage in his senior year he left and with his older brother they both signed up with the Navy for flight training programs. Jeff’s brother stayed with the Navy while Jeff was accepted into the Marine Corp.

Jeff entered flight training in July 1941. He then transferred to the Marine Corps upon graduation on April 3, 1942 where he was next assigned to North Island, San Diego, California.

Jeff’s first assignment was with VMF-112. The squadron was getting ready preparing for deployment in the Pacific. At this time Jeff was the typical air recruit receiving their wings as quickly as possible and deployed to the front lines as quickly as possible. Collectively Jeff had approximately 250 total flight hours and was now headed for combat.

VMF-112, known as the “Wolfpack” departed for the Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal. With less than ten hours of flight time in the Wildcat, Jeff would see aerial combat during his first combat mission on November 10th. His first air victories were on November 12th. Twenty five twin-engine Betty bombers attacked American warships and re-supply ships in the harbor. Jeff was new to combat yet he took his fighter to the enemy and was able to get lined up behind the enemy bombers. With ease Jess fired into the wing root and the right engine of the Mitsubishi bomber. Jeff was also trying no to be shot by the bombers rear gunner. The first bomber started flaming and smoking from the right engine. The prop finally stopped after it froze up.

The smoldering Betty nosed over toward the water as Jeff kicked rudder and glided over behind another Betty. This time Jeff slid over just missing the stream of machine gun bullets from the tail of the Mitsubishi. As Jeff leveled out he fired onto the tail of the bomber. The bullets struck home and he could see the rear gunner slump over as his gun stuck out at an odd angle. Jeff then pulled up behind the bomber centering up the Mitsubishi in his gun sites. The bullets hit the right engine again and the tail and fuselage. Still the fuel compartments in the right wing burst out in flames right away. Jeff let off on the speed a little and watched the fire in the right wing and engine of the Mitsubishi grow and spread. The wing crumpled up and the bomber banked down and to the right straight into the ocean.

Jeff shot down two Japanese Mitsubishi twin-engine “Betty” bombers. Jeff pulled in behind another Betty and fired into the bomber. The Mitsubishi started to smoke but gun fire from another aircraft caught Jeff’s attention and he zoomed away. No one saw the bomber Jeff hit go down from his gunfire. However the group shot down twenty four of the twenty five attacking bombers.

This was a stinging blow to the Japanese because the loss of an entire squadron of experienced crews and aircraft is never regained. Men and units learn from their experiences and pass on their knowledge to others. Those twenty-four bomber crews would never tell anyone what they learned.

The name “Cactus Air Force” was originated by someone on Guadalcanal. Jeff and his fellow Marine and Navy pilots would fly and fight almost every day against the Japanese that were trying to take back the island. The Japanese were in the process of constructing an airfield and base on the island when the United States Marines bravely invaded. The airfield was quickly finished and prepared for Navy and Marine operations. The Japanese that were not captured or killed escaped into the surrounding jungles.

Jeff and the other pilots of the “Cactus Air Force” would take off and land on the airfield under small arms fire along with cannon and mortar fire from the Japanese hiding in the surrounding jungles. Jeff and every other pilot that was stationed on Guadalcanal at this time told me the same stories. All the stories were different because each person experiences are different, but the stories were still the same. On one part of the island were the Marines and Sea Bee’s, and just a few feet over in the jungle we have the very agitated Japanese. Both sides were constantly taking pot shots at each other.

Jeff and the others including officers found themselves with their Colt 45’s in hand defending their camps at night from attacking Japanese. Jeff DeBlanc, James Swett, Joe Foss, you name them, they fought on land and in the air. A fighter pilot could find himself in a hand to hand struggle with an enemy which is quite different form aerial combat. This happened. I find myself in awe as to what these men experienced.

The Japanese made great use of float planes and had squadrons of them through out the island they occupied. Jeff claimed his first of these fighter/float-planes on December 18th. The Japanese used several different aircraft for float plane duty. The Japanese float-planes were agile and functional in performance, but not worth a heck against a Wildcat that was behind it.

The losses to the Japanese in their efforts to retake Guadalcanal was continuous and staggering. The Japanese attacked Guadalcanal less often and were regrouping at Rabaul and Bougainville. The Imperial Navy was forced to release to the Americans vast portions of the Pacific that they would never take back. The Japanese were planning a withdrawal from the Guadalcanal battle and a rescue of as many of their troops as possible from the island. The Japanese had to make one last attempt.

Coast Watchers are legendary with the war effort in the Pacific. The Coast Watchers saved the lives of many American seaman and aviators along with wrecking havoc on the Japanese with their valuable intelligence. The best information came to the Marine pilots from look outs on Vella Lavella. Japanese warships had sailed into the area of Kolombangara escorting cargo vessels. The communication from the Coast Watchers warned the American Marines at Guadalcanal and added that the Japanese ships were venerable to dive bombers.

The Americans reviewed this information as the Japanese increased their formations for another surge for Guadalcanal. We did not know that the Japanese were planning a massive retreat.

A mission to attack the ships was planned and aircraft were fueled and armed. This would be a maximum effort by the Americans. The date was January 31, 1943. The airfield was filled with the roar of aircraft engines with their props spinning like a sea of wind mills. Pilots were strapped in and wood blocks removed from their wheels as the fighter and bombers rolled to the end of the run way for take off. The bombers took off first followed by eight Wildcats.

Jeff was assigned a Wildcat that was not his own and he mentioned a complaint to the plane captain but at this time you flew what ever aircraft was ready. Jeff was escorting Navy and Marine SBD’s and Avengers. Along the way two different fighter pilots turned back because of mechanical problems. Jeff was unnerved by this because he knew something was wrong with his fighter but the mission was at hand. Losing two fighters was in deed a loss of effectiveness.

The six fighters formed up and settled in for the long flight. Jeff leaned out his fuel to conserve as much as possible. Jeff said that the flight was boring and as he glanced at his gages he noticed that the gas gage was fluctuating. Jeff activated his emergency fuel pump switch and worked a hand pump. Jeff Switched from the external tank to the internal fuel tank and the gas gauge returned to normal. Jeff figured he had not used the full amount of fuel in his external tank so either the tank had a leak, or he lost his vacuum pulling the fuel to his machine, or he had a gas guzzling airplane.

There was a lot going through Jeff’s mind as they flew over Kolombangara island. Yes, it was his fighter that was either leaking gas or getting very bad fuel usage. Jeff said that the enemy airfield was clearly visible however there were no enemy aircraft in sight along the run way or along the edge of the field. As Jeff and the group cleared the island and approached the Japanese ships in the harbor each group coordinated their attacks and set up for their turn. Jeff called the pilots in his group and notified them of his fuel problem. The American dive bombers rolled over in their attack and the air was filled with exploding anti-aircraft fire from the ships and along the shore.

Jeff watched the dive-bombers attack on the enemy ships. Not one dive-bomber hit a target. Jeff grieved that all twelve dive bombers missed the ships with their bombs. Jeff watched as columns of water showed where the bomb landed. Jeff watched the action on the water out of the corner of his eye as he searched the area for enemy fighters.

After the American bombers attacked the ships, Jeff caught sight of an enemy “Pete” float planes racing after the bombers. Jeff was at a higher altitude a few thousand feet or so he told me. He came around looking down and saw two of the bi-wing Japanese fighters who were flying one ahead of the other. Jeff called for his wingman to follow him. As Jeff lined up behind the Pete the enemy rear gunner opened up on him with his machine gun. Jeff dropped a few feet below the line of fire form the defensive gun and fired into the belly of the enemy float-plane.

The seaplane rolled over in flames and exploded as Jeff passed over him, leaving the second Pete in his sights. The rear gunner was ready for the approaching Wildcat but Jeff dropped again and sighted his guns in between the two cockpits closing in on the center of the seaplane from below and fired. Both the pilot and gunner must have been killed because the disabled airplane drifted off towards the west trailing smoke and exploded. Jeff said that the combat action was complemented by a beautiful south sea sunset that was the back drop to this battle. This was two aerial victories so far.

The remaining Japanese seaplanes pulled away from the area. As Jeff was gaining altitude for regrouping with the rest of his group. “Zero’s” was yelled out on the radio by someone. The oncoming Japanese were headed towards the other fighters in Jeff’s group and had not seen Jeff and his wingman because they both were about five hundred feet below the rest of the group and coming up under them. Jeff said that this was a perfect set up. He came up under the led Japanese fighter and led him slightly in his gun sights and fired. Instantly the Zero barrel-rolled and flipped out of his gun sights and rolled over and away. It was a display of excellent aircraft handling as the Japanese fighter was able to use its agility to get away so quickly. Jeff could not believe that he did not hit the Zero but he never saw the enemy fighter again and could not claim the kill. Jeff figures that either he killed the pilot and in his death throws he snatched the controls to cause the Zero to act so violently. Or that the Japanese was the fastest pilot he had ever seen.

The Zero that Jeff was firing on was flying wing for another Zero. The other Japanese next to the one Jeff had fired on pulled up and rolled slowly to look around to see what was going on. Jeff pulled in behind the Zero. Lt. Joe Lynch witnessed this action and reported it back to base when Jeff did not return. Lynch reported that Jeff pulled in behind the Zero and followed him into his roll perfectly and when the Zero straightened out Jeff fired causing the Zero to explode. This made three kills.

The aerial fight then began. Targets were all over the sky. Jeff and another pilot, Staff Sergeant Feliton flew in a defensive scissor weave and were successful for a while until their weave went wide and Jeff watched his friend catch fire from a Zero attack. He last saw Feliton trail from the combat area a stream of black smoke. Jeff’s fighter had taken a few hits during the melee. Jeff’s gas gauge was dropping quickly under full combat power.

The American bombers had formed up and Jeff was climbing to join them. He noticed that his gas consumption was serious. As Jeff was regrouping with the other fighters and bombers his speed was slowing and the others were quickly disappearing. Jeff looked over his shoulder. Jeff saw two Zero’s approaching from the rear. He knew that the Zero’s would attack the bombers and could claim the lives of more of his fellow aviators. Fuel was Jeff’s enemy now. He felt that he had no choice but to protect the bombers. All he had to do was delay the enemy so his squadron could better escape.

Jeff turned his stubby fighter around and attacked the Zero’s head on knowing that now he would not make it back to base. Before Jeff came into range he turned on all gun switches in order to use all six of his fifty caliber machine guns. The incoming Zero fired out of range. Jeff watch the tracers from his guns reach out towards his Wildcat. Jeff knew when to fire and held until he knew the distance was right. Jeff fired a two second burst. The full volley of six guns hit the Zero from wing tip to wing tip with solid hits in the center striking the engine and the cockpit area. Instantly the Zero caught on fire and yet it came on towards Jeff. It looked like the Zero was going to ram him head on.

Jeff had been climbing in his attack on the Zero. The Japanese was diving which is a more difficult attack for the Zero. Jeff’s bullets hit right and hit first as the Japanese fighter started to burn like a comet. With gravity working on Jeff’s climbing attack and after firing a full blast from all of his machine guns his Wildcat was just about to stall. The Zero was barreling on towards Jeff and he was target fixated. Out of desperation Jeff held down his gun trigger. The Zero flew dead into a stream of metal bullets causing the Zero to explode into a fireball that engulfed Jeff’s fighter.

As Jeff cleared the fireball derbies he had lost more speed. This made four aerial victories. Jeff then noticed another Zero attacking him after coming out of a loop and was diving on him. Jeff nosed his stubby fighter over and was descending as the Zero was speeding down after him. Jeff out smarted the Zero pilot because he knew the enemy would be full throttle after him. Jeff slowed down and even dropped flaps to stay just above stalling speed.

The Zero zipped past him. The Zero pilot panicked and tried to slow and started fishtailing as he went by. Jeff said that the Japanese pilot looked right in his eyes as he slid by. As soon as the Zero was just ahead of Jeff he fired one short burst right into fighter only fifty yards in front of him. This made five victories.

Did the Japanese pilot die in vain, or did he get the last dying laugh because as Jeff smugly shot down this Zero, another was behind Jeff with his Wildcat in his sights. Things happen so quickly and yet so slowly Jeff told me. After Jeff dispatched his fifth victory, making Jeff and Ace he was concerned at the time because the sun was setting. Jeff held up the watch on his left arm to view it. As Jeff looked at the watch it flew off his wrist and the instrument panel in front of him exploded from an incoming 20mm cannon shell which came over his left shoulder past his head. Enemy bullets and a cannon shell or two went into his dash from behind striking the firewall and slamming into the back of the radial engine. Fuel poured out from behind the panel as his fighter took another burst of machine gun fire in the engine.

The engine flamed and stopped. Jeff jerked his fighter to get out of the line of fine from the Zero. He worked the broken canopy loose and as he tried to slide it back it was caught by the slipstream and flew off. Jeff pulled himself up and out on the left wing and tumbled off. Jeff told me he felt like a bird. It was so peaceful that he felt that he could fall and not get hurt. Mind you, this was Jeff’s first jump. No practice jumps were planned in his quick training back in the States. This was training on the job. The Pacific was below. Jeff took the time as he fell to look around and viewed the closest islands.

As he fell, Jeff knew that if he could make it to one of the Islands he could survive comfortably in the jungles. Growing up as a boy in Louisiana, Jeff came equipped with the natural skills of survival. When Jeff though it was time he pulled his rip-cord. The belts and straps all around his body snapped tight when the air filled the chute and snapped Jeff to a stop for a moment. Then he was comfortably floating. As Jeff floated in his parachute, he though about his fellow aviators who were returning safely to base. Jeff also thought of the two float planes and three Zero’s that had fallen to his guns. He was an official Ace who was about to get very wet.

Jeff was able to swim to one of the Islands and hide until friendly natives found him and kept him safe until he was rescued thirteen days later. For Jeff’s decision to defend his fellow aviators against all odds, he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Jeff returned to the States and became an instructor and later returned to the Pacific with VMF-422 where Jeff would score his last victory, a Val dive bomber.

Jeff retired as a Colonel in 1972 from the Marine Corps Reserve. During his military service he was credited with nine confirmed aerial victories and one probable.  He was decorated with the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and the Air Medal with 4 Gold Stars.

Sadly Jeff passed away on November 22, 2007.

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Above is Jeff and the Artist.

If you are interested in the original painting that has been autographed by Jefferson DeBlanc please call or e-mail us below.

Paintings size is 2 feet by 4 feet. Acrylic on stretched canvass. Remember, Jeff was a Medal of Honor winner. Price $3,000.00.

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Close up of painting.