This is the story of the only pilot to ever take down an enemy aircraft with an M1911 pistol.
Not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, he, like most of the "Greatest Generation," enlisted in the U.S. military and joined the Army Air Corps in February 1942 to become part of the Second World War. Baguette became a second lieutenant in the U.S. 7th Bomb Group, and was stationed in Pandaveswar in then British India.
On March 31, 1943, he and his U.S. Airmen squadron were ordered to destroy a railroad bridge in Pyinmana, Burma and history was made.
The Man Who Took Down a Japanese Plane with a Handgun
Owen Baggett's plane and B-24 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 Japanese fighter planes and their 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 pilots 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 took his best shot. He fired four rounds into the enemy cockpit, hitting the Japanese pilot!
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 cited by Wikipedia said "the plane was found crashed, the pilot thrown clear of the wreckage with a single bullet in his head."
No amount of pilot training could have prepared him for such an experience!
Whatever happened to Owen J. Baggett?
Though he survived the incident, and would go down in history as possibly the only person to down an enemy fighter with a .45 handgun, 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 World War II by eight OSS agents who parachuted into Singapore - now wouldn't we like to hear the rest of that story!
Owen John Baggett, who retired from the U.S. Air Force as a colonel, lived until the ripe old age of 85.