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Thread: Student 1939-1940: Jefferson Joseph De Blanc, USMCR

  1. #1
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    Default Student 1939-1940: Jefferson Joseph De Blanc, USMCR

    World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient


    ST. MARTINVILLE, La. --The passage of 50 years has not dimmed Jeff DeBlanc's memory of the day that almost cost him his life but instead won him the nation's highest decoration for Valor.

    The day was Jan. 31, 1943. The place was the sky over the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. Within a five-minute span, DeBlanc shot down two Japanese float planes and three Zeroes and then bailed out of his burning Grumman Wildcat.

    In the ensuing 12 days, the wounded DeBlanc swam for six hours to a Japanese-held island and lived for three days on coconuts before being captured by a tribe of natives who traded him for a sack of rice to another tribe, who turned him over to a British missionary who notified Allied coast-watchers, who arranged for his rescue.

    Through it all, the cocky 21-year-old Marine second lieutenant never doubted he would come through. "I just figured I'd steal a Zero to get home," the retired physics and math teacher, now 71, said as he sat at the dining table of his home in this Acadiana town. "I always figured I'd survive the war. I don't know why. If you did survive the first 10 or 12 days, you had a good chance of surviving the war."

    Nor did DeBlanc believe at the time that he was doing anything heroic. But four years later, President Harry S. Truman hung the Medal of Honor around his neck, placing him in one of the nation's most exclusive fraternities.

    Only 99 Medal of Honor recipients from World War II are still living; DeBlanc is the last in Louisiana. "The runway's getting pretty short," he reflected.

    In pilot program

    Jefferson Joseph DeBlanc's path to glory began in 1940 at Southwestern Louisiana Institute, now the University of Louisiana. He signed up for the Civilian Pilot Program, then quit school to join the Marine flight program. He was sent to Lakefront Airfield in New Orleans, then to Corpus Christi, Texas, for advanced training. He was there when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

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  2. #2

    Default Jefferson De Blanc lived to age 86


      World War II veteran DeBlanc remembered for quiet dignity

    U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) Col. Jefferson J. DeBlanc, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, died Thursday at 86 of complications of pneumonia.

    The St. Martinville teacher and administrator had received the nation's highest military honor in 1946 for his courage under fire in 1943 as a fighter pilot in the Pacific theater during World War II.

    "He was a very unassuming person, very quiet," said Naval Reserve Capt. Gordon J. Delcambre Jr., a St. Martinville native who is on active duty in Washington, D.C. DeBlanc was a friend of Delcambre's family.

    "You would never have identified him as being a Marine aviator during the war. He was just a very quiet man," Delcambre said.

    Johnny Raymond, a Breaux Bridge nursing home owner and a retired colonel with the Army's Special Forces who served in Korea and Vietnam, has similar memories of DeBlanc.

    "He was very humble and well-liked," Raymond said. "He was highly disciplined; he was a good athlete and a good tennis player. He was well-liked by everybody.

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    Judy Bastien
    jbastien@theadvertiser.com


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  3. #3

    Alumni Jefferson Joseph Sr.


      ST. MARTINVILLE - A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12 noon Monday, Nov. 26, 2007, at St. Martin de Tours Roman Catholic Church in St. Martinville, for retired Colonel Jefferson Joseph DeBlanc, Sr., 86, who passed away Thursday, Nov. 22, 2007, at Lafayette General Medical Center.

    Interment will follow at St. Michael Cemetery in St. Martinville, with a full military detail.

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