U.S. Naval Academy graduate in 1933. McCampbell was Honorably
Discharged from the Navy, because of restrictions in the number of
commissioned officers allowed at the time. Recommissioned as Ensign in
the U.S. Naval Reserve. Transferred to U.S. Navy and assigned to
U.S.S. Portland on June 14, 1934. Assigned Aircraft Gunnery Observer to
Scouting Squadron 11, July 1936. Flight Training at Pensacola NAS,
Florida in 1937. Received Naval Aviator wings in 1938 and assigned to
VF-4 aboard the USS Ranger.
Transferred to the USS Wasp Air Group as Landing Signal Officer. On
September 15, 1942, the USS Wasp was sunk by a Japanese submarine near
Guadalcanal and McCampbell was rotated home to the USA for R&R. Served as
an LSO instructor at Melbourne, Florida. Promoted to Lt. Commander.
McCampbell became C.O. of VF-15 in September 1943. Assumed command of
Carrier Air Group 15 in February 1944.
In May 1944, CAG 15, later known as "Fabled Fifteen", went to the
Pacific war aboard the USS Essex, part of Task Force 58. McCampbell in
command of all CAG 15's fighters, bombers and torpedo planes. The "Fabled
Fifteen" became one of the most highly decorated Air Groups in history
during their combat tour of seven months.
McCampbell returned to the USA and at Norfolk, Virginia, served as
Chief of Staff to Commander Fleet Air and as Commander of
Carrier Air Groups from March 1945 through January 1947.
Assigned as a student to, and later as a staff member of the Intelligence
Division, the Armed Forces Staff College. Served as Senior Naval
Aviation Advisor to the Argentine Navy, 1948 through January 1951.
Executive Officer of the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, February, 1951.
In March 1952, McCampbell became Planning Officer of the Staff of
Commander Aircraft Atlantic, through July 1953. Assumed command of the
Naval Air Technical Training Center at Jacksonville, Florida.
During the Summer of 1954, David McCampbell became Flight Test
Coordinator at the Naval Air Test Center in Maryland. Commanded the
USS Severn. Commanded the USS Bon Homme Richard. Assigned to the Joint
Chiefs of Staff at Washington D.C. in 1960. In September 1962, McCampbell
became the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for
Operations to the Commander in Chief of Continental Air Defense
Command. McCampbell retired from the U.S. Navy in 1964.
Top American Naval Aviator Ace - His 34 E/A destroyed in the air
is the greatest number of aircraft shot down by an American pilot in a
single tour of duty - Add to that, his 20 E/A destroyed on the ground.
McCampbell led his fighters against a force of eighty Japanese
carrier-based aircraft on June 19, 1944, that were approaching the American
Fleet, during the Battles of the Phillipine Sea - He personally destroyed
seven E/A plus two probables as the Americans virtually annihilated the
attacking force in what became the legendary "Marianas Turkey Shoot".
In October 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, McCampbell with only his
wingman, Lt. Roy W. Rushing, accounted for fifteen E/A destroyed of an
attacking Japanese force of sixty planes - McCampbell and Rushing attacking
a force of forty fighters while the rest of a flight
of five Hellcats, the only available air defense of the American Fleet,
attacked the remaining force of twenty bombers. David McCampbell
personally destroyed nine E/A plus two probables in the scrap in which
the enemy was forced to abandon their attack before reaching the fleet.
Because of his accomplishments, McCampbell was awarded the Medal of
Honor which was presented to him by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, among
his many decorations and awards. McCampbell is enshrined in the National Aviation
Hall of Fame.