On April 7, 1943, 22 year old Marine Lieutenant James Swett took off as a rookie division leader of four F4F Wiuldcats of VMF-221 on his maiden combat mission over the Solomon Islands.
His small band was part of a group of Marine and Navy aviators who were intercepting a wave of 150 Japanese aircraft.
A few minutes after take off Lt. Swett and his four aircraft command ran into 15 Japanese bombers. Swett ignored the odds and ordered an immediate attack from above. Personally leading the tight formation of Wildcats, Swett opened the engagement.
Less than 20 minutes later, Swett had scored seven confirmed kills!
He became the first and only USMC flying Ace in his first day of combat. Swett disengaged with a severely damaged engine and a shattered windshield that left lacerations across his face.
Oh yeah, and he was out of fuel. He skillfully brought his battered aircraft down into the sea off Tulagi where he was later picked up by patrol craft.
This was a great day for America and for James Swett.
Yesterday was his last.
Colonel James Swett Sr. passed away at the age of 88 in Redding, California.
To the entire Swett family I say "On behalf of a grateful nation".
There are now only 98 living recipiants of the Congressional Medal of Honor.