Thomas George Lanphier, Jr. – Captain, United States Army Air Corps Colonel, United States Air Force


Thomas George Lanphier, the World War fighter pilot died Thursday, Nov 26, 1987, in San Diego, California, of cancer. He was 71.

He was born on November 27, 1915 in Panama City, Panama to Thomas George Lanphier, Sr., a West Point graduate and World War I veteran. He married Phyllis of Boise, Idaho.

Colonel Lanphier, a journalism graduate of Stanford University, later became editor of the Idaho Daily Statesman and the Boise Capital News, special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, and Special Assistant to the Chairman of the National Security Resource Board. From 1951 to 1960, he was vice president of the Convair Division of General Dynamics in San Diego. On April 18, 1943, as a 27-year-old Army Captain leading a squadron of aircraft, and piloting a P-38 Lightning fighter, then-Captain Lanphier was one of the pilots who attacked the planes escorting Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of the attack on Pearl Harbor. According to a report to me by Mr. Mark Powell, and verified by historian Russell Jacobs, Lanphier was given shared credit with fellow pilot Lieutenant Rex Barber for downing the Admiral’s plane, but in later years that claim was further investigated and proven not to be the case and credit was eventually given solely to Barber.

During World War II, Colonel Lanphier was credited with downing nine Japanese planes, damaging eight on the ground, and sinking a destroyer. He received the Navy Cross, Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross for his service during the war.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis of San Diego, and their children, Patricia Mix of San Diego, Judith Strada of San Diego, Janet Lanphier of New York, Kathleen Lanphier of San Francisco and Phyllis Lanphier of San Diego. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 04/16/1890
  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/09/1972


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