Born on August 1, 1920 at Ridgewood, New Jersey, he grew up there and in Sebring, Florida.
He graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1941 and enlisted in the Army Air Corps, completing his avition training and received promotion to Captain early in 1942.
After service in the United States and Alaska he was ordered in March 1943 to the 49th Fighter Group of the 5th United States Air Force, then operating in the Southwest Pacific Area and in particular providing an early air screen for Darwin and Northern Australia. Subsequently he was transferred to the 475th Fighter Group, 13th Air Force, where he won promotion to Major.
He was already a leading ace with a record of 31 Japanese planes shot down when he volunteered on December 5, 1944 to lead a squadron of P-38s on a bomber escort mission over Mabalacar Airdrome on Luzon, Philippines. He shot down 3 of 20 Japanese Zero fighters that attacked his squadron. The next day, on a similar mission over Clark Field, near Manila, he exposed himself in order to draw fire away from a crippled bomber and shot down 3 of the 4 fighters that were attacking it. Another score on his way home that day brought his total to 38. On January 7, 1945, while leading a flight of four P-38s over Los Negros Island, he attempted a highly-dangerous maneuver in order to aid a comrade who was losing an encounter with a Japanese Zero and crashed.
He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in March 1946 for his actions on December 25-26, 1944 and January 7, 1945. His score of 38 enemy kills made him the second leading American fighter pilot of World War II, following Major Richard Bong. McGuire Air Force Base in his home state of New Jersey was named in his honor.
He is buried in Section 11 of Arlington National Cemetery.
McGUlRE, THOMAS B., JR. (Air Mission)
Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army Air Corps, 13th Air Force. Place and date: Over Luzon, Philippine Islands, 2526 December 1944. Entered service at: Sebring, Florida. Birth: Ridgewood, New Jersey. G.O. No.: 24, 7 March 1946.
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 January 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.
AIR ACE’S BODYIS FOUND
Major T. B. McGuire of Ridgewood Killed in Philippine Fighting
WASHINGTON, June 16, 1949 – The Air Force announced today that it had recovered the body of Major Thomas B. McGuire of Ridgewood, New Jersey, who had thirty-eight Japanese planes to his credit when he was shot down in the Philippines over four years ago.
His body was among the war dead arriving at San Francisco on an Army transport. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery.
He was listed as missing for four years after he disappeared during combat over Los Negros Island. He was last seen going to the aid of a fellow flier who was outnumbered by enemy planes. Early this year a graves registration team found his body, today’s announcement said. Nearby was the wreckage of a P-38 identified as the plane he had been flying.
New Jersey’s only Air Force Base, McGuire Field at Fort Dix, was named after Major McGuire.
The Air Force’s top-ranking ace was Major Richard Bong, who downed forty enemy planes. He died in a crash after the war had ended.
MCGUIRE, PACIFIC ACE, BURIED IN ARLINGTON
WASHINGTON, May 17, 1950 – Major Thomas B. McGuire, Medal of Honor winner during the war in the Pacific, was reburied with military honors in Arlington National Cemetery today.
Seven BV-25 medium bombers flew over as the Fifth Air Force ace, a native of Ridgewood, New Jersey, was laid to rest in the presence of his family and members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation. General George C. Kenny, Major McGuire’s commander in the South Pacific, was chief honorary pall bearer.
The P-38 fighter pilot was killed after he had shot down thirty eight Japanese planes in action. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry over Luzon, Philippine Islands, on Christmas Day, 1944. He was killed two weeks later in the same area attempting to aid a comrade under fire by Japanese planes.
The services today were attended by his father, Thomas B. McGuire of Ridgewood, and his widow, now Mrs. Marilyn Stankowski of San Antonio, Texas.
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard