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Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr
U. S. Army Air Force
P-38 Lightning Pilot

Background
Thomas Buchanan McGuire was born on August 1, 1920 in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Nicknamed "Tommy", he attended Georgia Tech for three years. On July 12, 1941 McGuire joined the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) aviation cadet program. On February 2, 1942 at Kelly Field, Texas he earned his pilot wings and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, with U. S. Army serial number O-437031.

Wartime History
McGuire was assigned to the 313th Pursuit Squadron of the 50th Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Michigan during February to May 1942. He then joined the 56th Pursuit Squadron of the 54th Pursuit Group at Paine Field in Washington, and served in the Aleutian Islands off Alaska during June to October 1942, then returning to Hamilton Field until March 1943.

Next, Lt McGuire was assigned to the 49th Fighter Group, 9th Fighter Squadron in New Guinea. In July 1943, he transferd to the 475th Fighter Group, 431st Fighter Squadron with the rank of 1st Lieutenant.

On August 18, 1943 he claimed three aerial victories. On August 21, 1943 he claimed two aerial victories and became an ace. On August 29, 1943 he claimed two more aerial victories and a month later on September 28, 1943 claimed two more. On October 15, 1943 claimed his tenth aerial victory.

On October 17, 1943 McGuire took off piloting P-38H 42-66836 on a mission to intercept incoming Japanese A6M Zero fighters off Oro Bay During the air combat, McGuire claimed three Zeros shot down before he was damaged by gunfire and bailed out over the Solomon Sea roughly 25 miles off the north coast of New Guinea. Afterwards, he was unable to inflate his life raft due to shrapnel holes in it. Thirty minutes later he was rescued by PT-152 and transported to USS Hilo AGP-2 and later returned to shore and got back to his squadron.

Afterwards, promoted to the rank Captain and two months later promoted to Major. During May to December 1944 he was Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the 431st Fighter Squadron (431st FS). Next, served as operations officer of the 475th Fighter Group during December 1944 until Janury 7, 1945 when he went Missing In Action (MIA).

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Mission History
On January 7, 1945 McGuire took off piloting P-38L "Eileen-Ann" 44-24845 and crashed on Negros Island. His remains were recovered in 1949. In total, McGuire was credited with destroying 38 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 3 probables and 2 damaged, all while flying the P-38 Lightning.

Medal of Honor
On March 7, 1946 McGuire earned the of Honor (MOH), posthumously for his actions between December 25, 1944–January 7, 1945.

Medal of Honor Citation (G.O. No.: 24, 7 March 1946)
Medal of Honor"He fought with conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity over Luzon, Philippine Islands. Voluntarily, he led a squadron of 15 P-38's as top cover for heavy bombers striking Mabalacat Airdrome, where his formation was attacked by 20 aggressive Japanese fighters. In the ensuing action he repeatedly flew to the aid of embattled comrades, driving off enemy assaults while himself under attack and at times outnumbered 3 to 1, and even after his guns jammed, continuing the fight by forcing a hostile plane into his wingman's line of fire. Before he started back to his base he had shot down 3 Zeros. The next day he again volunteered to lead escort fighters on a mission to strongly defended Clark Field. During the resultant engagement he again exposed himself to attacks so that he might rescue a crippled bomber. In rapid succession he shot down 1 aircraft, parried the attack of 4 enemy fighters, 1 of which he shot down, single-handedly engaged 3 more Japanese, destroying 1, and then shot down still another, his 38th victory in aerial combat. On 7 January 1945, while leading a voluntary fighter sweep over Los Negros Island, he risked an extremely hazardous maneuver at low altitude in an attempt to save a fellow flyer from attack, crashed, and was reported missing in action. With gallant initiative, deep and unselfish concern for the safety of others, and heroic determination to destroy the enemy at all costs, Maj. McGuire set an inspiring example in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service."

Aerial victory claims
Thomas B. McGurire Jr. was officially credited with 38 aerial victory claims.

Victory Date Location Aircraft Notes on claim
1 08/18/43     First aerial victory claim.
2 08/18/43     Second aerial victory claim
3 08/18/43     Third aerial victory claim.
4 08/21/43     Fourth aerial victory claim.
5 08/21/43     Fifth aerial victory claim became an "ace".
6 08/29/43     Sixth aerial victory claim.
7 08/29/43     Seventh aerial victory claim.
8 09/28/43     Eighth aerial victory claim.
9 09/28/43     Ninth aerial victory claim.
10 10/15/43 Oro Bay   Tenth aerial victory claim.
11 10/17/43 Oro Bay   Eleventh aerial victory claim.
12 10/17/43 Oro Bay   Twelfth aerial victory claim.
13 10/17/43     Thirteenth aerial victory claim.
14 12/26/43     Fourteenth aerial victory claim.
15 12/26/43     Fifteenth aerial victory claim.
16 12/26/43     Sixteenth aerial victory claim.
17 05/17/44     Seventeenth aerial victory claim.
18 05/19/44     Eighteenth aerial victory claim.
19 06/16/44     Nineteenth aerial victory claim.
20 06/16/44     Twentieth aerial victory claim.
21 07/27/44 Halmahera Ki-43 Twenty-first aerial victory claim and leading 5th Air Force ace
22 10/14/44     Twenty-second aerial victory claim.
23 10/14/44      
24 10/14/44      
25 11/01/44      
26 11/10/44      
27 11/12/44      
28 11/12/44      
29 12/07/44      
30 12/07/44      
31 12/13/44      
32 12/25/44 Mabalacat    
33 12/25/44 Mabalacat    
34 12/25/44 Mabalacat    
35 12/26/44 Clark Field    
36 12/26/44 Clark Field    
37 12/26/44 Clark Field    
38 12/26/44 Clark Field    


Aircraft assigned to Thomas McGuire
In the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) during 1943-1944 McGuire was assigned five P-38 Lightnings, each nicknamed "Pudgy" after his wife with squadron number 131.

P-38H "Pudgy" 42-?????  ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped
P-38H "Pudgy II" 42-66817  ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped
P-38? "Pudgy III"  42-?????  ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped
P-38L "Pudgy IV" 44-?????  ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped
P-38L "Pudgy V" 44-24155  ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped

Memorials
After the recovery of remains, McGuire was buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 11, grave 426 C H / SH.

After McGuire went missing, San Jose Airfield was renamed "McGuire Drome" in honor of McGuire.

On January 13, 1948, Fort Dix Army Air Base in Wrightstown, New Jersey, was renamed McGuire AFB in his honor.

References
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: McGuire, Thomas B Jr. page page 128 (PDF page 135), Alphabetical, by theater of operation (SWP) McGuire, Chronological List, 431st FTR SQ.

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