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Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr.

"Go in close, and then when you think you are too close, go on in closer."
"On individual tactics, aggressiveness is the keynote of success....
The enemy on the defensive gives you the advantage, as he is trying to evade you, and not shoot you down."

Major McGuire with PudgyMaj. Thomas B. McGuire Jr., whose memory was preserved by the naming of McGuire Air Force Base, was born in Ridgewood, N.J., Aug. 1, 1920. He left college in his third year to join the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941 as an aviation cadet.

During World War II, his first assignment was flying patrols over the Aleutian Islands and Alaska. In March 1943, he was sent to the south Pacific as a P-38 Lightning pilot with the 49th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force. He had not been in combat and hadn't even seen enemy aircraft.

Five months later, he was sent to the 431st Fighter Squadron -- Satan's Angels -- of the 475th Fighter Group. On Aug. 18, 1943, McGuire was part of a group flying top cover for bombers striking at Wewak, New Guinea. Nearing their target, the fighters were attacked by Japanese aircraft. During the battle, McGuire shot down two "Oscars" and one "Tony." On the following day, near the same location, he downed two more Oscars. This established him as an air ace after engaging the enemy only twice.

McGuireOn Jan. 7, 1945, McGuire was leading a group of four P-38s over a Japanese-held airstrip on the Los Negros Islands, the Philippines. His formation scattered and an enemy aircraft zeroed in on one of the P-38s. The pilot radioed for help and McGuire was quick to respond. Flying in a tight situation at low altitude caused McGuire's plane to stall and crash. He died in his attempt to save a friend's life.

McGuire was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his final mission, and for missions on Dec. 25 and 26, in which he shot down seven "Zeros." His final victory total of 38 made him the second leading American air ace of WWII.

McGuire's other decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross with three silver stars, six Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 15 Air Medals -- all before he was 25.

 

 

 


  

 

McGuire with Dick Bong
McGuire (R) and Bong 15 Nov 44 in the Phillipines
       The two top scoring U.S. aces of World War II

Congressional Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor

*McGUlRE, THOMAS B, JR. - (Air Mission) Major, US Army Air Corps, 13th Air Force. Action: Over Luzon, Philippine Islands, 2526 Dec 1944. Inducted: Sebring, Fla.. Born: Ridgewood, N.J. G.O.#24, 7 March 1946.

Citation: 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 Jan 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.

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