America Loses Another Hero

Marine Corps veteran James E. Swett passed away Sunday. Col. Swett was the recipient of the nation’s highest award for valor in combat the Medal of Honor. He was also the recipient of two Purple Hearts, six Distinguished Flying Cross medals and 21 Air Medals.

Col. Swett earned the Medal of Honor in a dogfight over the Solomon Islands in World War II. In the action, 76 American planes defended against an onslaught of 150 Japanese bombers and fighter escorts. In less than 15 minutes, then-Lt. Swett downed seven enemy planes. He was going after another when friendly fire from antiaircraft guns below punched a whole in his wing. The gunner in the rear of the dive-bomber was able to hit Col. Swett’s windshield, shattering it. With his last few rounds of ammunition, Col. Swett killed the gunner and set the other plane on fire.

Col. Swett’s plane rapidly lost altitude. He crash-landed into the ocean, quickly evacuating the plane before it sank. A Coast Guard picket boat picked him up. Col. Swett went onto down eight more Japanese aircraft during the remainder of the war. He also saw action in Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Col. Swett left active duty in 1950 and joined the reserves. He retired in 1970. Col. Swett was an active participant in his community and will be sorely missed.

Read more about the Medal of Honor or read more about Col. Swett in the local news.

James Swett

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