Owen J. Baggett

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Owen J. Baggett

Col. Owen J. Baggett United States Air Force
Born August 29, 1920
Graham, Texas
Died July 27, 2006(2006-07-27) (aged 85)
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Rank Colonel
Unit 9th Bomb Squadron
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Prisoner of War Medal

Owen John Baggett (August 29, 1920 – July 27, 2006) was a second lieutenant in the United States 7th Bomb Group based at Pandaveswar, in India, during the Second World War.

Baggett was born in Graham, Texas in 1920. He graduated from Hardin–Simmons University in 1941, where he was the band's drum major. He found employment on Wall Street after graduation.

Military service

Baggett enlisted in the Army Air Corps (which was subsumed by the Army Air Forces in February 1942) and graduated from pilot training on July 26, 1942, at the New Columbus Army Flying School.

On March 31, 1943, while stationed in British India, Baggett's squadron was ordered to destroy a bridge at Pyinmana, Burma. Before reaching their target, the B-24 bombers were intercepted by Japanese fighter planes. Baggett's plane was severely damaged and was set on fire by several hits to the fuel tanks, and the crew was forced to bail out. The aircrew escaped the crippled B-24 merely seconds before the bomber exploded. Japanese pilots then attacked U.S. airmen as they parachuted to earth. Two of Baggett's crew members were killed. Baggett, though wounded, played dead, hoping the Japanese would ignore him. One Zero approached within several feet of Baggett. The pilot then nosed up, almost stalling, and opened his canopy. Baggett drew his pistol and fired four shots at the pilot. Baggett watched as the plane stalled and plunged to the earth, and Baggett became legendary as the only person to shoot down a Japanese airplane with an M1911 pistol. He survived and was captured by the Japanese. This account is not consistent with Japanese wartime records – discussed in the book "B-24 Liberators vs Ki-43 Oscars" by Edward M Young on page 57. This fight was between 13 Ki-43s of the JAAF 64th Sentai and around 12 B-24s of the 7th BG. There were no Japanese pilot losses. Regarding his pistol, his obituary states he shot down the Zero with a revolver. The statement that his pilot, Lloyd K. Jensen was "summarily executed" which appears in some articles regarding this event is untrue. Lloyd Jensen survived as evidenced by Baggett's own statements in the book "Guests of the Emperor" at page 187 and National Archives and Records Administration: "World War II Prisoners of War Data File, 12/7/1941 - 11/19/1946".

He remained a prisoner for the rest of the war. Baggett and 37 other POWs were liberated at the war's end by eight OSS agents who parachuted into Singapore.

While he was assigned to Mitchel Air Force Base, Baggett was noted for his work with children, including sponsoring a boy and a girl to be commander for a day. Baggett retired from the Air Force as a colonel and later worked as a defense contractor manager for Litton.

See also

  • Biography portal
  • United States Air Force portal

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