This is the story of the only pilot to ever take down an enemy aircraft with an M1911 pistol.
After Owen J. Baggett was born in 1920 in Graham, Texas, he would become another hard working citizen and college graduate from the great state of Texas out to seek his fortune in the United States.
Not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, he, like most of the “Greatest Generation,” enlisted in the U.S. military when he joined the Army Air Corps in February 1942. Baguette became a second lieutenant in the U.S. 7th Bomb Group, and was stationed in Panadaveswar in then British India.
On March 31, 1943, he and his squadron were ordered to destroy a railroad bridge in Pyinmana, Burma and history was made.
Baggett’s bomber squadron was intercepted by a group of Japanese Zero fighters and a fierce fight ensued. With the plane badly damaged, Baggett tried to fend off the Zeros with the top turret .50 cal guns while another crew member attempted fire control on the aircraft.
Before the burning bomber could explode, he and four crew members were able to bail out, but the fight to survive wasn’t over just yet.
The Zeros then circled back and tried to finish off the parachuting men, killing two and wounding Baggett who then played possum hoping the fighter planes and their Japanese pilots would leave him alone.
Drooped in his harness, Baggett still had the wherewithal to draw his M1911 pistol and keep it close to his side. One of the enemy planes now came in for a closer look to see if their dirty work was done, and at near stall speed was said to have actually opened the cockpit for a better look.
It was then that Baggett raised his sidearm and fired four shots into the enemy cockpit!
The plane then stalled, and the enemy Zero spun out of sight. Although the young U.S. pilot could never have believed that he shot down an enemy fighter plane with his .45 M1911 supposedly one credible report “said the plane was found crashed, the pilot thrown clear of the wreckage with a single bullet in his head”
Though he survived the incident, and would go down in history as possibly the only man to down an enemy fighter with a .45, he was captured by the Japanese and spent the rest of WWII in a prisoner of war internment camp.
The young second lieutenant and 37 other POWs were rescued towards the end of the war by eight OSS agents who parachuted into Singapore – now wouldn’t we like to hear the rest of that story! Baggett, who retired from the U.S. Air Force as a colonel, lived until the ripe old age of 85.