“Dashing Dave” McCampbell’s career had started inconspicuously. He graduated the U.S. Naval Academy in 1933, and was discharged into the reserves that same day; the navy had limited its officer commissions. He spent a disappointing year working construction and assembling airplanes in Bessemer Alabama.
By the time his fuel and ammunition ran low, McCampbell had shot nine planes out of the sky for a single-day record that remains unsurpassed.
When he returned to the carrier, his tanks and magazines were virtually empty. “When I tried to [taxi forward after landing], I gave [the throttle] near full gun, and the engine conked out on me.
So I ran out of gas on the deck. They had to push me out of the landing area.
I found out from the mech who reammunitioned the guns that I had exactly six rounds left in the starboard outboard gun, and they were all jammed. But it worked out all right. For his actions that October day, Commander Mc Campbell received the Medal of Honor from President Franklin Roosevelt.