McGuire -- Maj Thomas B McGuire Jr

Medal of Honor recipient, WWII

Medal of Honor recipient, WWII

 

Thomas "Mickey" McGuire completed high school at Sebring, Fla., and attended Georgia School of Technology. He enlisted at MacDill Field, Fla., July 12, 1941, and took pilot training at Randolph and Kelly Fields, Texas, getting his wings and commission in February 1942.

He trained in P-38s, in which he scored 38 aerial victories for the Fifth Air Force being second only to Maj. Richard I. Bong's 40 kills. Mickey McGuire went to Australia in March 1943, and served with the 475th Fighter Group's 131st Squadron in the long haul from Australia to New Guinea on to Biak Island and to the Philippines. He ran up his long score in all types of fighter missions, as escort for bombers, fighter bomber sweeps, and aerial combat. He was promoted to first lieutenant in September and to captain in December 1943, and to major the following May. On Christmas Day 1944, McGuire volunteered to lead a squadron of 15 planes as protection for heavy bombers attacking Mabalaent Airdrome. As the formation crossed Luzon, it was jumped by heavy enemy fighters and in that battle Major McGuire shot down three enemy planes.

This was typical of many of his missions. In another action he scored on one Zero, exposed himself to permit a crippled friendly bomber to escape, and shot down three other fighters before the mission was completed. Major McGuire lost his life Jan. 7, 1945, while leading four P-38s over Japanese-held airstrip on Los Negros Island A single Japanese fighter jumped them. McGuire led his squadron into a tight Lufbery Circle snaring the Zero inside. The enemy fighter made a sharp turn to get out of the trap, but the P-38s stayed with him from 2,000 down to 200 feet. There the formation scattered and the enemy plane maneuvered into position on the tail of one of the Lightnings. The pilot called for help and Major McGuire responded. However, his wing tanks had not been released and in this tight maneuver Major McGuire's plane stalled at low altitude and crashed.

Major McGuire received the Medal of Honor for this mission and for combat over the Philippine Islands Dec. 25-26, 1944, for shooting down seven enemy fighter planes in two days. These victories ran his score to 38.

The citation reads, in part: "...He repeatedly flew to the aid of embattled comrades, driving off enemy assaults, while himself under attack and at times outnumbered three to one and, even after his guns jammed, continuing the fight by forcing a hostile plane into his wingman's line of fire. With gallant initiative, deep and unselfish concern for the safety of others, and heroic determination to destroy the enemy at all costs, Major McGuire set an inspiring example in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service."

Major McGuire also was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, three Silver Stars, six Distinguished Flying Crosses and 15 Air Medals. In June 1949, the airfield at Fort Dix, N.J., was named McGuire AFB in his honor.

See the
full citation at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.

For addition information see the National Museum of the USAF website.