Thomas Buchanan "Mac" McGuire jr.

Tommy McGuire  

USAAC   Major   -   Medal of Honor,
DSC, Silver Star with 2 OLCs,
DFC with 1 OLC,
Air Medal with 6 OLCs

Born 1 August 1920 in Ridgewood N.J.
Later moving to Sebring Fla. with his mother Polly
Graduated from Sebring High School in 1938
Enrolled at Georgia Tech
Belonged to Beta Theta Pi fraternity
Completed 3 years there but then
Joined the USAAC in 1941
Began his training at "Air Activities of Texas"
  - a privately owned flying School at Corsicana, Tx.
Continued at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Tx.
Winged at Randolph Field, Texas
His first combat assignment was in Alaska
Flying P-39's with the 54th Fighter group
He returned to the US in December 1942 &
Married his girl, Marilynn Geisler, whom he called "Pudgy"
In Feb. 1943 he reported to Orange County Airport
  - to learn how to fly the Lockheed P-38 Lightning
Posted to the S. Pacific in March 1943 with the 49FS, 5FG
Was hand picked by Gen. Kenney to help with his new 475 FG
Assigned to the 431st FS (Fighter Squadron)
On 18 Aug. he downed 3 planes & 3 days later (21st) made ace
Wanted to be top ace but was always slightly behind Dick Bong
He was KIA 7 January 1945 - his final score was 38 destroyed


Capt. Bong's 27 Planes Downed in Combat Puts Him at Top

(By The Associated Press) 13 April 1944 - Today's Southwest Pacific headquarters announcement that Capt. Richard Ira Bong has downed 27 enemy planes in combat makes him the leading American ace in number of planes shot down in combat, but second to Capt. Don S. Gentile of the European theater in the number destroyed both in the air and on the ground.
Gentile, the Piqua Ohio fighter pilot who flies from Britain, is credited with 30 planes destroyed — 23 shot from the skies and seven others destroyed on the ground.
Bong, who lives at Poplar, Wis., broke Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker's long-standing record of 26 planes shot down in combat in World War I by getting his 26th and 27th enemy plane over the Japanese base at Hollandia, New Guinea.
Only planes destroyed in aerial combat are tallied in the Pacific theater while all planes destroyed, both on the ground and in combat, are credited to Eighth air force fliers in Britain, the navy keeps no official counts of individual victories but Lt. (jg) Ira Kepford of Muskegon, Mich., is credited with 16 Japanese planes.
The Marine record of 26 planes downed is held jointly by Maj. Joe Foss of Sioux Falls, S.D. and Maj. Gregory Boyington of Okanogan, Wash., who is missing in action.
Nineteen other army, navy and marine corps fliers have destroyed 15 or more enemy planes, and while Mediterranean theater records list no fliers among the top 24 with 15 or more planes to their credit, the two leaders there are Maj. Herschel Green of Mayfield, Ky., with 13 and Lt William J. Sloan of Richmond, Va. with 12.
The leading aces are:
European theater: Capt. Don S. Gentile, Piqua, Oh., 30; Capt. Robert S. Johnson, Lawton, Okla., 22; Capt. Duane W. Beeson, Boise, Ida., 21; Maj. Walker Mahurin, Fort Wayne, Ind., (missing) 21; Maj. Gerald Johnson, Owenton, Ky., (missing) 18; Maj. Walter Beckham, De Funiak Springs, Fla., (missing) 18; Maj. Francis S. Gabreski, Oil City, Pa., 17; and Lt.-Col. Glenn E. Duncan, Houston, Tex., 15.
Dick Bong & Tommy McGuire
Captains Dick Bong and Tommy McGuire
Pacific (Army): Capt. Richard Bong, Popular, Wis., 27; Col. Neel E. Kearby, San Antonio, Tex., (missing) 21; Lt.-Col. Thomas J. Lynch, Catasauqua, Pa., (dead) 19; Capt. Thomas B. McGuire, Jr., San Antonio, Tex., 17; Maj. Robert Westbrook, Hollywood, Calif., 16 and Maj. George S. Welch, Wilmington, Del., 16.
Pacific (Marines): Maj. Joe Foss, Sioux Falls, S.D., 26; Maj. Gregory Boyington, Okanogan, Wash., (missing) 26; Lt. Robert Hanson, Newtonville, Mass., (missing) 26; Capt. Donald Aldrich, Chicago, 20; Lt. Kenneth Walsh, Brooklyn and Washington, 20; Lt.-Col. John L. Smith, Lexington, Okla., 19; Maj. M. E. Carl, Hubbard, Ore., 17; Lt. William J. Thomas, El Dorado, Kan., 16 and Capt. Harold R. Spears of Ironton, Ohio with 15.


Yanks Battle Japs on Leyte

19 November 1944 - A week ago a trap was closed on the remaining Japanese troops in the Ormoc area on Leyte's west coast. But Japanese Gen. Yamashita risked his country's dwindling supply of ships - he lost several of his ships and 8,000 of his men - to land reinforcements. The American operation was still theoretically a mop-up, but there were at least 100,000 men engaged in a savage battle.
In the face of stiffened resistance, Yanks plunged further down the road from Pinamopoan, seized the ridge bearing that name and captured the peak of 2,300-foot Mt. Catabran which dominates enemy positions south toward Ormoc Bay.

Five Jap Divisions
It was the 24th which drove down from Carigara Bay. The First Cavalry met increased resistance in the Mt. Pina area. Ormoc was bombed. An unrevealed number of invaders were attacking five Japanese divisions: First, 16th, 26th, 30th, 102nd, totaling at full strength 60,000 men.
Maj. Richard I. Bong, Poplar, Wis., American ace of aces, ran his string of downed planes to 36, said enemy fighters were among the best in his experience. The Navy's ace, Cmdr. David McCampbell, Los Angeles, boosted his total to 32; Maj. Thomas B. McGuire, Ridgewood, N. J., reached 28; First Lt. Don S. Warner, North Hollywood, who had never before seen a Japanese destroyer or plane in combat, sank a destroyer and downed three planes in 24 hours.
The Tokyo radio claimed victories: Two American transports sunk and seven damaged off Leyte. One ship was set afire, another hit by a bomb, said an Associated Press correspondent eye witness, who added it cost the enemy four planes.

Sounds Like Alibi
Lieutenant General Homma, commander of the first Japanese to invade the Philippines, stated that air supremacy in that area was "more important than to annihilate the five enemy divisions which have landed on Leyte." That may have been one way of preparing the Japanese people for the failure of Yamashita's forces to hold on to the island.
U.S. carrier planes struck Manila and Cavite again, blew up two destroyers and sank or damaged a light cruiser and 11 other ships. They destroyed 28 planes in the air and shot up 130 grounded craft.
Admiral Nimitz reported that about 200 Japanese landed on Ngeregong Islet eight miles from American-held Peleliu in the Palaus, and that the American force there had been evacuated.


34 Army Air Force Aces Have Score of 15 or More
Maj. Bong Leads List with 40 Enemy Planes; Colonels Gabreski, Lynch Also Included

WASHINGTON, 22 Dec. 1944 (UP) — An honor roll of 34 Army Air Force fighter aces, each of whom has destroyed 15 or more enemy planes in combat, was issued by the War Department today and at the top of the list was Maj. Richard I Bong, of Poplar, Wis.
Among them, they have shot down a total of 689 1/4 German and Jap planes.
The Eighth Air Force, which operates in Europe against the Germans, had the most aces — 13 — with scores of 15 or better kills. The Fifth Air Force, operating in the Southwest Pacific, was next with 10, but it boasted the two top men - Maj. Bong and Maj. Thomas B. McGuire, of San Antonio, Tex., who has bagged 30 Jap planes.
Next in line were the 15th Air Force which operates in the Mediterranean and has four aces in the select circle; the Ninth which operates in Europe and has three top-ranking aces, and the 13th (based in the South Pacific) and the 14th (based in China) each with two.
Maj. Bong is credited with 38 kills but since the list was tabulated Dec. 15, he has run his bag to 40.
Other high ranking fighter pilots and their scores were:

Lt. Col. Francis S. Gabreski, of 95 Spruce St., Oil City, Pa., Eighth A.F., 28 (Prisoner of war In Germany)
Maj. Robert S. Johnson, Lawton, Okla., Eighth A.F., 27.
Maj. George E. Preddy, Greensboro, N.C., Eighth A.F., 24.
Capt. Don S. Gentile. Piqua, O., Eighth A.F., 23.
Maj. Gerald T. Johnson, Eugene, Ore., Fifth A.F., 23.
Maj. Fred J. Christensen Jr., Watertown, Mass., Eighth A. F., 22.
Col. Neel E. Kearby, Dallas. Tex., Fifth A. F., 22. (Missing in action).
Col. Glenn E. Duncan, Houston, Tex., Eighth A.F., 21 1/2 (Missing in action).
Capt. John J. Voll, Goshen, O., 15th A.F., 21.
Maj. Walker M. Mahurin, Fort Wayne, Ind., Eighth A.F., 21.
Maj. Jay T. Robbins, Coolidge, Tex., Fifth A.F., 21.
Lt. Col. Robert B. Westbrook, Hollywood, Cal., 13th A.F., 20.
Col. Charles H. MacDonald, St. Petersburg. Fla., Fifth A.F., 20.
Lt. Col. Thomas J. Lynch, of Catasauqua, Pa., Fifth A.F. 26, (killed in action)
[Col. Lynch was an engineering student at the University of Pittsburgh and was graduated in
1940. His widow, a Swissvale resident, was the former Rosemary Fullen, of 7368 Schley Ave.]
Col. Hubert Zemke, Missoula, Mont., Eighth, 19 1/2.
Lt. Col. David C. Schilling, Traverse City, Mich., Eighth, 19.
Col. David L. Hill, Victoria, Tex., 14th A.F., 18 1/2.
Capt. John T. Godfrey, Woonsocket, R. I., Eighth, 18 (prisoner of war in Germany).
Lt. Col. Herschel H. Green, Mayfield, Ky., 15th A.F., 18.
Capt. Duane W. Beesen, Boise, Ida., Eighth, 18 (prisoner of war in Germany).
Maj. Walker Carl Beckham, Defuniak Springs, Fla., Eighth, 18 (prisoner of war in Germany).
Maj. Don M. Beerbower, Hill City, Minn., Ninth A.F., 17 1/2 (killed in action).
Capt. James S. Varnell, Charleston, Tenn., 15th, 17.
Capt. Cyril F. Homer, Sacramento, Cal., Fifth, 17.
Maj. Edward Cragg, Cos Cob, Conn., Fifth, 17 (missing in action).
Capt. Glen T. Eagleston, Alhambra, Cal., Ninth, 16 1/2.
Lt Col. William N. Reed. Marion, Ia., 14th, 16 1/2.
Maj. George S. Welch, Wilmington, Del., Fifth, 16.
Lt. Col. Richard E. Turner, Bartlesville, Okla., Ninth, 16.
Maj. Samuel J. Brown, Tulsa, Okla., 15th, 15 1/2.
Maj. Bill Harris, Springville, Cal., 13th A.F., 15.
Capt. Richard A. Peterson, Alexandria, Minn., Eighth, 15.


Yanks Blast Manila Fields

Tommy McGuire  
General MacArthur's Headquarters, Philippines, 27 Dec. 1944 — Land-based American bombers for the fourth consecutive day blasted Japan's air fields at Manila on Luzon Island, now regarded as vulnerable to re-invasion by Yank forces mopping up in the central Philippines.
Clark Field was the principal target as it was in two previous attacks.
It was plastered Monday with 88,000 pounds of explosives, Gen. Douglas MacArthur reported today.
The Japanese sent up at least 50 interceptors, of which 39 were shot down by Yankee fighter escorts. Four more were listed as probably downed.
The day's bag brought to 72 the total of Japanese planes shot down in 48 hours in the Manila raids. The Americans lost six fighters.
On conquered Leyte, American ground forces mopped up small and isolated Japanese remnants which the communiqué said, were "capable of only minor opposition." Monday, 899 more of the enemy were killed and 14 captured, at a cost of seven American dead and 21 wounded.
Thus, enemy casualties for the Leyte campaign were raised to 114,120.
The fighter cover in the Manila raid was led by Maj. Thomas McGuire, of San Antonio, who bagged three Japanese. That brought his total to 38, within shooting range of the 40 credited to Maj. Richard I. Bong, Poplar, Wis., leading American ace.
The Americans got two more Japanese planes over Mindoro Island, invaded by the Yanks, Dec. 15. Two enemy planes were shot down Christmas Day over Tacloban air field on Leyte.
Liberators raided Mindanao airdromes and harbors, sinking two freighters, and fighter bombers assaulted the Japanese Silay airdrome on Negros Island.
Medium and fighter-bombers dumped 115 tons of bombs on Halmahero at Lolobata, Hatetakako and Wassile Bay.
A 2,000-ton cargo ship and small freighter were sunk by air patrols off Borneo.


Pacific Air Ace Doesn't Expect To Fight Japs Again

Chicago, 11 Jan. 1945 - (AP) - Maj. Richard I. Bong, the nation's ranking ace of World War II with 40 Japanese planes to his credit, says that he doesn't expect to return to combat and is home for permanent reassignment in the United States.
The 24-year-old major did not disclose his next assignment but he said his bride to be, Miss Marjorie Vattendahl, Superior, Wis., college student whom he will marry on Feb. 10, will go with him. He said he was looking forward to his visit home and planned to "enjoy some real ice skating."
Major Bong was reminded by a reporter that Major Thomas McGuire had shot down 38 planes in the south Pacific.
"He's a fine fellow," Bong said, "I served with him. I wish him luck and hope be breaks my record tomorrow, if he hasn't already."
[Unfortunately for McGuire, this was not to be, since, unknown to them all, Tommy had been killed in action just a few days earlier -jf]


Ace McGuire Dogged by Battle Jinx

WASHINGTON, 18 Jan 1945 - (UP) - A jinx kept Major Thomas B. McGuire, aerial ace of the Southwest Pacific, from catching up with Major Richard I. Bong's score of enemy planes knocked down.
McGuire recognized the jinx, cursed it and fought it. But now the battle is over, for word has come from the Philippines that McGuire was killed in action against the Japanese.
McGuire's score stood at 38 Japanese planes destroyed. Bong, now back in this country, led with 40.
Capt. Elliott Arnold of New York and Port Clyde, Me., formerly on the New York World Telegram, told today how fate dogged McGuire. Arnold, just back from the Philippines, said:
"When Bong was home last summer, McGuire had his big chance, but he got dengue fever and was forced out of action. Bong was back shooting them down again before McGuire got started. McGuire usually was about eight planes behind.
"Then the day Bong left McGuire shot down four and the following day three more Japs for a total of 38. But then Lieut. General George C. Kenney grounded him.
"McGuire might have run up a bigger score but as squadron commander he was always looking out for his boys, hovering over them. Most of his kills came when enemy planes attacked his formation. He never pulled off to look for targets on his own."

(Right) Happier times - Major McGuire speaks with the world famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, who was teaching young American flyers how to conserve fuel on long missions. It has been rumored that Lindbergh has actually destroyed in combat at least one Japanese fighter, and maybe more, while flying with McGuire and other Army pilots in the Pacific. Lindbergh gave up his commission and was flatly rejected when he tried to reenlist for military service because of his participation in the "America First" movement before the US entered the war.



Tommy McGuire's P-38 "Pudgy V"
Tommy McGuire's P-38 "Pudgy V" named after his wife, whom he called "Pudgy" - that nickname probably wouldn't go over real well these days

Top Active Air Ace Is Killed in Action

San Antonio, Tex., Jan. 19 (AP) - Death in air battle in the Philippines stilled hopes Maj. Thomas B. McGuire Jr., had of coming home soon after nearly two years in the southwest Pacific.
In a letter to the wife of the nation's leading active air ace, Lt Gen. George C. Kenney, commanding Allied Air Forces in the Pacific, revealed McGuire had been shot down and killed on Jan. 7. Mrs. McGuire as yet has received no official war department notification.
A graduate of Randolph and Kelly flying fields, McGuire, received his wings in 1942. He served in the Aleutians six months without once seeing an enemy plane. But in his tour of duty in the Pacific - he would have completed two years Feb. 1 — bagged 38 Japanese planes to make up for it.
Mrs. McGuire said yesterday, her husband had written he thought to be home by Jan. 1, but when he found he couldn't, wrote he hoped it wouldn't be long.

Plane Named for Wife
In a P38 named "Pudgy," so christened because of a nickname he had for his wife, McGuire wrote a thrilling saga across Pacific skies, one that placed him second on America's roll call of air aces. When Maj. Richard I. Bong, with 40 planes, returned to the United States, he became the leading active ace.
Once before, McGuire had gone down off the New Guinea coast, when he bagged his 12th and 13th Japanese planes. He spent two months in a hospital in Australia before returning to duty.
"The accident, which left him vulnerable on Jan. 7, and in which be met his death, was sheer chance as Major McGuire was one of the most capable fighter pilots I have ever known," General Kenney wrote, adding:
"Your husband is one of the men the airforces can never forget. We will find it more difficult to carry on without him. I felt that he would make a name for command, as well as for leadership and for great personal courage."
Kenney's letter to Mrs. McGuire indicated McGuire's plane was in some way disabled in the air, making him an easy prey to defending Jap fighters. The general wrote that word McGuire was shot down brought him the worst of a number of had moments he has had to face since the war began.
In Sebring, Fla., home town of McGuire, a gold star was added to the honor roll of the Presbyterian Sunday school he attended in his youth.
Besides his widow, McGuire is survived by his father, Thomas B. McGuire Sr., Ridgewood, N.J. His mother died in 1943.

An Advanced Far Eastern Air force Base on Luzon (AP) — Maj. Thomas B. McGuire, Jr., the highest ranking active ace in the Southwest Pacific, perished when his P-38 stalled on a turn and crashed 200 feet into the jungle.
McGuire was attempting to come to the assistance of his wingman who was under attack by a Japanese fighter plane when the stall ended his brilliant career.
Brig. Gen. Paul B. Wurtsmith, in command of the Fifth Air Force fighters, said that McGuire's wingman (Major Jack Rittmayer) also lost his life. He was shot down.


Victories Include :

18 Aug 1943

21 Aug 1943

29 Aug 1943

28 Sep 1943
15 Oct 1943

17 Oct 1943
16 Dec 1943
26 Dec 1943

17 May 1944
19 May 1944
16 June 1944
27 July 1944
14 Oct 1944

1 Nov 1944
10 Nov 1944
12 Nov 1944
7 Dec 1944

13 Dec 1944
25 Dec 1944
26 Dec 1944
2 Zekes
1 Tony
2 Zekes
1 fighter
1 Zeke
1 Tony
2 Zekes
1 Val
2 Zeke
3 Zekes
1 Zeke
3 Vals

1 Oscar
1 Tojo
2 Sonia
1 Oscar
1 Oscar
1 Hamp
1 Tojo
1 Oscar
1 Tojo
1 Oscar
2 Jacks
1 Oscar
1 Tojo
1 Jack
3 Zekes
4 Zekes
destroyed &
destroyed &
destroyed &
destroyed &

destroyed &
destroyed &

38 / 3 / 2

Score from "USAAF (Pacific Theater) Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft in Air-to-Air Combat World War 2" by Frank Olynyk


--- American Aces ---


McGuire at about

McGuire at Wikipedia

Pudgy - Goin Down
Pudgy IV Goin' Down by ?? (courtesy of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society web site here)


Thanks go out to


On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.

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