By 1819 News staff
Eighty years ago today, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and drew the United States into World War II. There are many stories of heroism in the war that followed, but today we will focus on one such story, of an Alabama native.
U.S. Navy Capt. David McCampbell, USN, was born in Bessemer in January 1910. He was awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH) for his heroism by President Roosevelt in January 1945. The citation that accompanies that medal reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commander, Air Group 15, during combat against enemy Japanese aerial forces in the first and second battles of the Philippine Sea. An inspiring leader, fighting boldly in the face of terrific odds, Comdr. McCampbell led his fighter planes against a force of 80 Japanese carrier-based aircraft bearing down on our fleet on 19 June 1944. Striking fiercely in valiant defense of our surface force, he personally destroyed seven hostile planes during this single engagement in which the outnumbering attack force was utterly routed and virtually annihilated. During a major fleet engagement with the enemy on 24 October, Comdr. McCampbell, assisted by but one plane, intercepted and daringly attacked a formation of 60 hostile land-based craft approaching our forces. Fighting desperately but with superb skill against such overwhelming airpower, he shot down nine Japanese planes and, completely disorganizing the enemy group, forced the remainder to abandon the attack before a single aircraft could reach the fleet. His great personal valor and indomitable spirit of aggression under extremely perilous combat conditions reflect the highest credit upon Comdr. McCampbell and the U.S. Naval Service.”
McCampbell was awarded the MOH for aggressively attacking superior forces and becoming a triple ace in two combat engagements. The Alabama native was credited with doing what needed to be done and doing it well.
McCampbell died in Florida in 1996. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.