UL alumnus Jefferson Joseph DeBlanc shot down nine enemy aircraft in his two tours of duty in the Pacific at Guadalcanal and Okinawa during World War II, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1946.
Deblanc was born in Lockport, Louisiana, on February 15, 1921. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve as a Seaman, Second Class on July 29, 1941 and received flight training at the Naval Reserve Aviation Base in New Orleans, for two weeks, before going to the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas, to continue his training.
His Naval enlistment was terminated under honorable conditions on 15 October 1941 and he was appointed an Aviation Cadet, USNR, on the following day. Commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve on May 4, 1942, 2dLt DeBlanc moved to San Diego to join Headquarters Squadron, 2d Marine Aircraft Wing.
In July he was assigned to the Advance Carrier Training Group, where he remained under instruction until 6 August. He was placed in the new pilot's pool until he joined Marine Fighting Squadron 112, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in October. Two weeks later he left for overseas and arrived at Guadalcanal on 1 November. He was promoted to first lieutenant on December 19, 1942.
On January 31, 1943, he was flying over enemy-held Kolombangara Island in the Solomons as a section leader of six fighter planes of Marine Fighting Squadron 112. Their mission was to escort a strike force of dive bombers and torpedo planes out to attack Japanese surface vessels.
Leading his section directly to the target area, 1stLt DeBlanc and the strike force encountered a large number of Japanese Zeros, the premier Japanese fighter aircraft of World War II, protecting the enemy's surface craft. Immediately engaging the Zeros at 14,000 feet, he aggressively countered their repeated attempts to drive off the Marine bombers and waged fierce combat until he received a call for assistance from the dive bombers which were under attack at 1,000 feet.
Diving to that altitude, he plunged into the formation of enemy float planes and practically single-handedly disrupted their attack, thus enabling the Marine dive bombers to complete their runs on the enemy ships and to escape. His escort mission thus completed, 1stLt DeBlanc nevertheless remained on the scene, despite his rapidly diminishing fuel supply, and challenged the superior number of float planes.