sending the most amount of soldiers to a fight which ended with the greatest civilian and military
casualties ever recorded. That’s saying a lot. There are a myriad of books written about this war in
general, but since there were so many people involved, there are even more books written about
their personal accounts. There are so many takes on this horrendous time in our history, but think
about the small incidents too. There were probably hundreds of thousands of acts of heroism that
we’ll never hear about and maybe even more miracles that went unnoticed. We’re glad to say that
we found one of those stories that include both.
Owen John Baggett was born in 1920 in Graham, Texas. By 1941 he graduated from college and
went on to work on Wall Street, but by the following year, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps
(now USAF) when the United States entered the war.
to Burma, flying a B-24 Liberator. What happened the following year is one of those
stories we just described. On March 31st, 1943, Baggett and his squadron were sent
on a mission to destroy a bridge of strategic importance. On their way, the B-24s got
intercepted by Japanese Zeros which hit the squadron hard. Baggett’s plane was
riddled with bullets to such an extent that the crew was forced to bail out.
While parachuting, a Japanese pilot decided that downing the plane wasn’t
enough. He circled around and started shooting at the bailed out pilots, killing
two of the crew. Seeing this, Baggett did the only thing he could. He played dead.
the pilot opening his canopy to check on his horrendous work. Not wasting any
time and thinking on his feet (no pun intended), Baggett pulled out his pistol
and shot the pilot right in the head.
The last thing he saw was the Zero spiraling toward earth. When he landed, he and the
other bailed out crew members were captured and sent to a POW camp where they remained
till the end of the war. They were liberated by OSS agents (World War II version of the modern CIA)
and Baggett was recognized as the only person during the war to shoot down a Zero with a pistol