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Thomas J. Lynch
39th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group, 5th Fighter Command
Ace Pilot credited with 20 Victories

Pilot History
Click For EnlargementBorn in Catasauqua, PA. Lynch joined the US Army Air Corps during 1940. In 1942 he was a 1st Lieutenant assigned to the 39th Fighter Squadron, 35th Fighter Group. During World War II, he was credited with a total of 20 victories. Decorations included Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters, Silver Star, Air Medal with 9 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster (posthumously).

Flying the P-39 Airacobra
Flying the P-39 Airacobra in defense of Port Moresby, he claimed his first two victories on May 20, 1942. His third on May 26. On June 16, 1942 piloting a P-39 Airacobra, he was 'bounced' by a pair of A6M2 Zeros of the Tainan Kōkūtai.  Escaping them he was then set upon by four more and damaged. Unable to return to base, he bailed out and broke his arm, but returned to duty.

Flying the P-38 Lightning
Afterwards, the 39th converted to P-38 Lightnings, scoring two more victories on December 27.

On December 31, Lynch flew P-38G 42-12715 leading a group of twelve P-38s escorting B-25, B-26 and A-20s attacking Lae Airfield. Lynch made several passes at Oscars and Zeros, shooting one down that crashed into the Huon Gulf.  He was credited with two more victories.

Afterwards, he was promoted to Captain. On January 7, 1943 scored another victory. Followed by another on March 3 and May 8 and June 12. Promoted to Major, and Commanding Officer of the 35th Fighter Group.

On August 20 he earned another two victories and August 21 another victory.

On September 4, 1943 over the Huon Gulf, down a Ki-48 Lily. On September 16 he scored another victory. Again on February 10, 1944 he scored another victory.

Promoted to Lt. Col he served with headquarters, 5th Fighter Command, he was credited with two victories on March 3, 1944 and another on March 5.

Missing In Action
On March 8, 1944 took off piloting P-38J 42-103987 on a fighter sweep with P-38 piloted by Richard I. Bong over Aitape Harbor. Strafing six Japanese barges, his P-38 was damaged by anti-aircraft fire at low altitude. Bailing out low to the ground, his chute barely rippled open, and fellow pilot Richard I. Bong witnessed him hit the jungle and his P-38 crash. Declared missing in action, his remains were never found and he remains Missing In Action (MIA).

After his death, when Richard I. Bong made a 15-state publicity tour, including a visit to Lynch's family in Catasauqua, PA to pay his respects.

Lynch was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DFC), Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters, Silver Star, Air Medal with 9 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Memorials
Lynch is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

References
"Lt. Col Thomas J. Lynch Killed in air duel in S. Pacific, Bride informed; Catasauqua stunned by death of ace"
"Major Richard I. Bong Flies P-38 to see Mrs. William J. Lynch, mother of late Catasauqua flier-ace"
Hoy, Bruce. "Tropical Lightning Survivor", Flightpath Magazine, Volume 4 No. 2
AcePilots.com - Thomas Lynch, C.O. 39th FS
Aerial Victory Credits - Thomas J. Lynch

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