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James Swett - FU Hero

Posted by Jolly on April 17, 2009

James E. Swett

James Swett is an easy choice to add to our FU heroes. James received the Medal of Honor for knocking down seven Japanese dive bombers in under fifteen minutes during his first tour in WW II; pretty amazing statistics for the young airman to say the least. Today our young men in the air live for the chance to get just one but their predecessors, like Col Swett, have done their job so well that the follow on training and equipment produced over the last several decades have left our fighter pilots with no one to shoot at the moment. As part of the Guadalcanal campaign, Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto had ordered a massive daylight offensive involving at least 150 Japanese bombers and fighter escorts. The Allies had about half that number of planes, one of which carried Lt. Swett.
He was leading his division of four Wildcat planes April 7, 1943, when another pilot spotted the enemy and radioed, "There's millions of 'em!" Over Tulagi island, Lt. Swett saw about 20 lightly armored Japanese Val dive bombers trying to target Allied ships. Lt. Swett made his first attack within 300 yards of a dive bomber, making his first kill, and followed quickly with bursts of fire on two more Vals, sending both spiraling down in flames. He became separated from his division during the incident but managed under intense enemy gunfire to down four more Japanese bombers. While engaging yet another, he ran out of ammunition and was hit by that Val's rear gunner. Parts of his shattered windscreen scraped against his face and his engine caught on fire. One wing was already damaged by antiaircraft flak.
James E. SwettCol Swett played a huge part in stopping the Japanese advance in the Pacific. His courage and skill was demonstrated again and again as he achieved another 8.5 kills during his second tour. He refused to return to the states after being awarded his Medal of Honor to do a publicity tour because he felt his ability to train young replacement pilots would be of more benefit to the folks in combat than some bullshit PR gig in the U.S.
James died Jan 18 2009. He had earned eight Distinguished Flying Cross Medals and four Air Medals in addition to the Medal of Honor. He, like most of our WW II heroes has passed on to greener pastures. The country will always be in debt to his service and FU salutes his valor.


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