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Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr.

Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr.

Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr.Thomas Buchanan "Tommy" McGuire, Jr., was born on 1 August 1920 in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He left the campus of Georgia Tech to join the Army Air Forces on 12 July 1941. Following graduation with pilot training Class 42-B on 2 February 1942 at Kelly Field, Texas, he was sent to the 50th Pursuit Group at Key Field, Mississippi for fighter transition.

McGuire's first assignment was to the 54th Pursuit Group in Nome, Alaska, where he served until 16 October 1942. On 14 March 1943 he departed for the Pacific and the beginning of a brilliant combat career. Assigned initially to the 49th Fighter Group, he was transferred to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group on 20 July.

Flying a P-38H with "Pudgy" emblazoned across its nose, McGuire shot down two Zekes and a Tony near Wewak, New Guinea on 18 August. Three days later he destroyed two more Zekes and damaged a twin-engine fighter to become an ace. By the end of the month he had added four more to his score and made no secret of the fact that he wanted to surpass Dick Bong's steadily climbing record.

Downing Japanese aircraft in multiples, McGuire himself was shot down and wounded on 17 October after downing three Zekes near Buna. Back in the saddle in December, he shot down three Vals over Cape Gloucester on the 26th .  By 17 December he had 31 to Bong's 40. General Kenney sent Bong home and temporarily grounded McGuire. He returned to combat with a vengeance, destroying three Zekes on Christmas Day and four more on the 26th.

McGuire's hope of forty victories was never realized. Attacking a Zeke at tree-top altitude over Negros Island on 7 January 1945, he entered a high speed stall and crashed into the jungle.

Not only was McGuire a prolific fighter pilot, he also authored the book on combat tactics in the Pacific that was adopted by the Army Air Corps. This gave the U.S. airmen the advantage needed to successfully accomplish the difficult task of defeating the Japanese with a minimal loss of American planes and lives.

Tally Record:
38 Confirmed
2 Probable
3 Damaged 

Decorations:
Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Distinguished Flying Cross 4 OLCs
Purple Heart 1 OLC
Air Medal 14 OLCs

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