October 24, 1944
Setting a U.S. Navy record, Alabama native David McCampbell alone shot down nine Japanese planes during the World War II battle of Leyte Gulf. The battle pitted McCampbell and six other pilots against about 60 Japanese aircraft threatening U.S. ships. Before he landed virtually out of fuel and ammunition, McCampbell also drove away many more enemy planes from American forces. For his gallantry, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. McCampbell was born in Bessemer on Jan. 16, 1910, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1933 with a degree in marine engineering. During the war, he took part in many actions in the Pacific theater. His activities after the war included service on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He retired from the Navy in 1964, and died in 1996.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.