James E. Swett (born 15 June 1920) was a United States Marine Corps ace pilot during World War II. He was awarded the United States' highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions while a division leader in VMF-221 over the Solomon Islands on 7 April 1943 when his four plane division of F4F Wildcats intercepted a formation of fifteen enemy bombers. He personally brought down seven of the enemy planes within 15 minutes. This feat made the 22-year old Marine aviator an ace on his first combat mission. He was shot down during the battle and rescued from the water.
Subsequently he downed a total of 15 enemy aircraft during the war, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses and four Air Medals.
Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
FIRST LIEUTENANT JAMES E. SWETT
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, as a division leader in Marine Fighting Squadron TWO TWENTY-ONE in action against enemy Japanese aerial forces in the Solomon Islands Area, April 7, 1943. In a daring flight to intercept a wave of 150 Japanese planes, First Lieutenant Swett unhesitatingly hurled his four-plane division into action against a formation of fifteen enemy bombers and during his dive personally exploded three hostile planes in mid-air with accurate and deadly fire. Although separated from his division while clearing the heavy concentration of anti-aircraft fire, he boldly attacked six enemy bombers, engaged the first four in turn, and unaided, shot them down in flames. Exhausting his ammunition as he closed the fifth Japanese bomber, he relentlessly drove his attack against terrific opposition which partially disabled his engine, shattered the windscreen and slashed his face. In spite of this, he brought his battered plane down with skillful precision in the water off Tulagi without further injury. The superb airmanship and tenacious fighting spirit which enabled First Lieutenant Swett to destroy seven enemy bombers in a single flight were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
/S/ FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT