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Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr.
U. S. Army Air Force, 475th Fighter Group, 431st Fighter Squadron
P-38 Lightning Pilot and Ace
Thomas Buchanan McGuire was born on August 1, 1920 in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Nicknamed "Tommy" or "Mickey". He graduated high school in Sebring, Florida then 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 transfered 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 the rank of 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 (475th FG) starting in December 1944 until January 7, 1945 when he went Missing In Action (MIA).

During the night of January 6, 1945 McGuire planned a fighter sweep to search for enemy aircraft to shoot down, in hopes of scoring aerial victories to equal or exceed the forty aerial victories credited to Major Richard I. Bong who had already rotated back to the United States. For reasons unknown, McGuire did not fly his personal aircraft, P-38L "Pudgy V" 42-66817 on his final mission.

Mission History
On January 7, 1945 McGuire took off piloting P-38L "Eileen-Ann" 44-24845 and crashed on Negros Island.

Recovery of Remains
His remains were recovered in 1949.

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. McGuire Jr. was officially credited with destroying 38 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 3 probables and 2 damaged, all while flying P-38 Lightnings.

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 Oscar Twenty-first aerial victory claim and leading 5th Air Force ace
22 10/14/44     Twenty-second aerial victory claim.
23 10/14/44     Twenty-third aerial victory claim.
24 10/14/44     Twenty-fourth aerial victory claim.
25 11/01/44     Twenty-fifth aerial victory claim.
26 11/10/44 Ormoc Bay Ki-61 Tony Twenty-sixth aerial victory claim.
27 11/12/44     Twenty-seventh aerial victory claim.
28 11/12/44     Twenty-eighth aerial victory claim.
29 12/07/44     Twenty-ninth aerial victory claim.
30 12/07/44     Thirtieth aerial victory claim.
31 12/13/44     Thirty-first aerial victory claim.
32 12/25/44 Mabalacat   Thirty-second aerial victory claim.
33 12/25/44 Mabalacat   Thirty-third aerial victory claim.
34 12/25/44 Mabalacat   Thirty-fourth aerial victory claim.
35 12/26/44 Clark Field   Thirty-fifth aerial victory claim.
36 12/26/44 Clark Field   Thirty-sixth aerial victory claim.
37 12/26/44 Clark Field   Thirty-seventh aerial victory claim.
38 12/26/44 Clark Field   Thirty-eighth aerial victory claim.

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-38J "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

McGuire was officially declared dead the day of the mission.

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

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

On May 17, 1950, McGuire was buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 11, grave 426-SH.

On January 13, 1948, Fort Dix Army Air Base in Wrightstown, New Jersey was renamed McGuire Air Force Base (McGuire AFB) in his honor. Outside the base as a gate guard is F-5G 44-53015 painted in the markings of P-38L "Pudgy V" 44-24155 piloted by McGuire.

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.
P-38 Lightning Aces of the Pacific and CBI (1997) by John Stanaway cover (P-38J Pudgy III), pages 21-45 (475th FG references in New Guinea), 48-58 (color profiles), 60 (artwork McGuire), page 61-71 (475th FG references in Philippines), 84-88 (Bong and McGuire), 89 (Appendices P-38 aces, 475th FG pilots), 92 (color plate descriptions), 96 (figure plate description, 6)
The Last Great Ace biography of Thomas McGuire
McGuire's Last Mission by Caroll Anderson
"What Really Happened to McGuire?" by David Mason via Wayback Machine January 27, 2012
The Search For The Crash Site of Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. by David Mason, 2000
McGuire Final Report: Investigation into the final combat mission of Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. (2009) by David J. Mason
USAF Museum McGuire -- Maj Thomas B McGuire Jr (2014) biography
ANC Explorer - Thomas B. McGuire, Jr

FindAGrave - Thomas B. McGuire, Jr. (photos, grave photo)

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