Monday, October 12, 2020


 Well...Making progress here at La nueva casa de rancho de juvat.  I'm down to 4 boxes remaining in my office.

Top middle is a recently discovered (i.e. it was stowed in the back of the closet and forgotten about) box containing thing's from my Dad's Hero Wall.  So, that one is going to take a while to work through, and probably a Scotch or two.  The box below it is full of pictures from various assignments and stages of the kids growing up.  So that one is going to take quite a bit of Mrs J and my time to sort through (along with a Scotch or two).  The other two are "stuff",  most likely soon to be located at either the dump or St Vinnies.

By the way, I've become quite well known by the staff at St Vinnie's.  Most know they should make haste to a hiding place.  

But that's where we are in the move in process. 

So, what are we going to write about this week, juvat?

Well, Sarge, where do I go every time the well goes dry?

Yep, USAF (and antecedent organizations) Medal of Honor Recipients.

Today, we'll be discussing one of my favorites, Thomas Buchanan McGuire Jr, namesake of what I knew of as McGuire AFB, now known as Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Major McQuire entered the US Army Air Corps in July 1941 through the Aviation Cadet Program and was commissioned and received his pilot wings at Kelly Field in San Antonio in February of 1942.  Initially assigned to a P-39 squadron in the Aleutians, He returned to the lower 48 in December where he met and married Marilynn "Pudgy" Giesler.

You didn't think I titled this post after myself, did you?

In February 1943, he transitioned to the P-38, and in March reported to the 9th Fighter Squadron in New Guinea.  On August 18, 1943, Lieutenant McGuire was escorting Bombers attacking Wewak, New Guinea. During the mission, the escorts were attacked by Japanese fighters.  During this engagement, McGuire shot down two Oscars and one Tony (American names for the Nakajima Ki-43 and the Kawasaki Ki-61)

Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar (Source)

Kawasaki Ki-61 Tony (Source)

Flying another mission to the same target the next day, Lieutenant McGuire shot down two more Oscars making him an Ace in two days.

On October 17th 1943, now 1st Lt McGuire is scrambled to intercept Japanese Bombers a port in New Guinea.  During the intercept, Lt McGuire sees a single P-38 trailing smoke and being chased by 7 Mitsubishi A6M's (the Zero).

The infamous "Zero" (Source)

Lt McGuire immediately attacks and shoots down 3.  However, the odds aren't in his favor and the other 4 attack and render his aircraft unflyable (e.g. they shot him down).  As he's exiting the aircraft, his parachute harness catches on something in the cockpit.  After a thrilling descent from 12000' to 5000' , he manages to free himself and bails out only to find that the handle to the rip cord has been shot away.  He finds the end of the rip cord (sans handle) and pulls that inflating his parachute at 1000'.  He safely lands in the water, but his life raft is shot full of holes.  He is rescued by PT boat about an hour later.  He has a bullet wound in his wrist and broken ribs, but after 6 weeks in hospital, returns to his unit.  For this mission, he's awarded the Silver Star, along with the Purple Heart.

I've never been in a 1 v 7 at all, much less one for "realsies".  To attack under those odds took guts.

In December 1943, he's promoted to Captain (He's 23). On Dec 26, he shoots down 3 Aichi D3A1 Vals. He's got 16 Kills to date.  Now, the thing the got me on this one is his squadron (about 16 P-38s is engaged by ~50 Japanese fighters.  He attacks the dive bombers because his job is to protect the convoy.   The 8 P-38s he attacks with destroy 10 dive bombers (including his 3) as well as three fighters.

Focused on the mission, yeah, I think that's safe to assume.

Aichi D3A1 from Carrier Akagi (Before it was sunk, of course) Source

At this point, the situation in the South Pacific was changing in the Allies favor, which is good.  However, it would also mean that now Captain McGuire goes on a 5 month dry spell with little combat and no kills, but at least a case of Malaria helped the time fly by.  Finally, on May 16th, the drought is broken and he shoots down another Oscar followed two days later by shooting down a Tojo.

At this point, he is promoted to Major (He's "almost" 24) and is the Commander of the 431st Fighter Squadron.  Over the next 6 months, he'll bring his score to 31 trailing Major Dick Bong (the leading Ace in the American military) who has been sent home after achieving 40 kills. 

On Christmas day, 1944, Major McGuire shoots down 3 following it the next day by adding 4 more.  Both of these events occurred while going to the aid of other Allied aircraft that are being attacked by larger numbers of Japanese fighters.  The odds on both those days were 3 or 4 to one in the Japanese favor.

This brings him to within 2 kills of Major Bong's record.  Unfortunately, not wanting to mar Major Bong's reception back in the US, Major McGuire is grounded until Jan 6, 1945.  On the 7th, Major McGuire is leading a flight of 4 P-38s towards Mindoro Island.  Over Negros Island, they are attacked by a single Oscar.  Major McGuire's wingman is under attack and Major McGuire is trying to get into gun parameters to shoot the bad guy before the bad guy shoots his wingman.  

The fight spirals down to just above the ground.  In a final, desperate, attempt to get lead on the Oscar, Major McGuire pulls a little too hard on the yoke and the P-38 stalls and crashes, killing Major McGuire.

Rest in Peace, Warrior


Major McGuire's Medal of Honor Citation:

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.

Before I leave, I've got a favor to ask.  Our guests this weekend just left and Mrs J went down to clean the guest house up.  I had met the couple when they arrived on Friday.  Nice folks, maybe early 50's, friendly little fuzz ball of a pooch.  I introduced myself and the wife introduced herself and her husband.  Friendly enough, but I got a feeling of reservation, a "holding something back" kind of feeling.

A "none of your business, juvat" neon sign started flashing in my head, so I gave my standard spiel asking them to call us if they needed anything at all.  Drove past the guest house a couple of times and waved at them sitting on the porch.  They left early Sunday morning for their drive back to the Dallas Metro area.  

Mrs J and I went by later to start resetting it for our next guests.  We have a guest book that our guests can leave comments in.  Theirs was heartbreaking.  The weekend had been paid for in advance by a Doctor. We thought it was an employee of the month thing. No, They had recently lost their 2 year old Granddaughter to a brain injury incurred in a fall.  They had just needed to get away from things for a bit and the Granddaughter's Doctor made the reservation.  They said the stay had helped.  

If you could spare a moment and put in a word to the Big Guy for Phil and Teresa and their Granddaughter, I'd appreciate it.




  1. Major McGuire used up three of his lives on that one mission....chute opening at 1000' feet?!? Per your request juvat that family goes into the prayer rotation tonight. The Major had the "touch"..... 38 victories in a year and a half.

    1. Yeah, he used up a lot of lives before he ran out. Failing to release his drop tank cost him that little bit of airspeed that might have been enough to avoid the stall. But there was a shortage of them in the theater at the time, so....something about "above and beyond the call of duty" comes to mind.

      Thanks, Nylon.

  2. 435th Fighter Training Squadron scarf and photo, very nice. The 435th has quite a history, when they were a Tactical Fighter Squadron they were with the mighty 8th TFW in Thailand. We know that outfit, don't we? P-38s in WWII (a mention was made of P-51s as well), Major McGuire's bird. Ties in nicely.

    It sounds like Major McGuire ran out of luck, his skill couldn't save him at that point. What an aviator! He had the knack.

    As to your last, prayers were offered, I cannot begin to imagine that sort of agony.

    1. While I was in the 435th, the Squadron Commander organized a reunion. Quite a few WWII vets showed up (this was in 84 or 85 so more of them were still with us). Their stories told in the squadron bar that Friday evening (after suitable toasts to "absent comrades" of course) were interesting to say the least. The next morning we had the F-15 Demo pilot put on a "practice" flight over the field. Most were unimpressed, saying the turning radius was way too large. (It is large, it's a physics thing weight, wing, speed all determine the radius). Then the guy made his slow speed pass with gear and flaps hanging. Lights the burners and does a double immelman. THAT got their attention. My Squadron Commander took the WWII Squadron Commander for an AT-38 ride. He said the guy still had pretty good flying skills, did a little light BFM (Basic Fighter Maneuvers 1v1 dogfighting), said he held his own pretty well. Given that the guy was probably in his mid to late 60's that's fairly impressive.

      Yeah, there's that old saw. "There are old pilots and there are bold pilots. There are no Old, Bold, pilots".

      Thanks, me either.

  3. I remember reading as a child of the selflessness of so many of the WWII fighter pilots, risking it all to save their fellow flyers. Sometimes the risk paid off, many times it did not. Then I realized that attitude was a characteristic shared by all warriors - God bless all.
    As I drove by a park the other day, I noticed some young children playing and laughing thought how innocent they were, how they have yet to learn of the 'bad' side of life. I can't imagine the pain of losing such a sweet thing. It is so true that when your time is up, it is up...

    1. Very true, Tom, very true. SFC Alwyn Cashe's story is an example of that.

      Me either, Tom.

  4. Something that sort of surprised me when I read Yeagar’s autobiography-or maybe it was the book by bud Anderson?

    If Yeagar saw a superior number of enemy fighters-maybe an overwhelming number? It did not bother him at the slightest and he would dive in to get them.

    I think that is the mentality that separates the ace from everybody else

    I always thought the P 38 was interesting for another reason.

    It was the only fighter with a yoke instead of a stick AFAIK.

    As a plane wasn’t at the highest scoring plane in our arsenal?

    Can you imagine how that would’ve been with merlin engines?

    The older I have become the more I have realized how life is so temporal and fragile

    It’s easy to believe that we will all grow old.

    I have learned repeatedly that isn’t the case.

    I have followed you on the periphery and did not know you ran a B and B.

    Had I known that perhaps I would’ve given you a call when I was through the hill country last year

    In any event I’ll put a word in for Phil and Teresa.

    We never know-or rarely know-what’s going on with others do we?

    1. My tactic at Red Flag/Cope Thunder (large force on force air exercises) was to come through the furball at a fast speed, target a couple, one with radar, one with heat, have my wingman do the same. Don't turn any more than necessary to keep guidance. Exit the furball, pitch up, get my Situation Awareness back and re-attack in the same manner. The only thing more predictable that the guy in the pipper is the guy looking through the pipper. Never tested in actual combat, but seemed to work in practice.

      You are right about the mentality thing. Ed Rasimus taught me a thing or two about that. Never with a witness though, but I learned a lot about real air to air from him.

      I don't know if the P-38 was THE leading airplane, but I do know that the two leading aces flew it for a total of 78 kills.

      Temporal and fragile is too true

      Thanks and no we don't.

    2. The Brits did the yoke thing alot, The Beaufighter, the Mossie, Spit (right?), probably everything else including their tanks, and ships....

    3. William@6:14AM/

      The Bell P-39 Airacobra utilized a yoke as well iirc..

    4. juvat/

      An old Squadron-mate of mine by the name of Thomas Lorden in the 78thTFS at RAF Woodbridge in early 70s was the Red Flag Agressor Sq Co for many yrs. (Ret as an 0-6--got the "black bird" on the way out, lol)Know of him or was he before your time? (Class of '66 types here)

    5. VX,
      I don't recognize the name, but it's quite possible I starred in some of his movies. ;-)

    6. STxAR,
      Having only flown with a yoke when I was a ROTC cadet and in a Cessna, A yoke seems unnatural to me. I would think that it wouldn't allow quite the ability to turn around in the cockpit that the stick did. Next time a P-38 is in town for Formation School, I may have to stop by and talk to the pilot about how it physically works in the cockpit.

      Something to look forward to, Thanks STxAR!

  5. Whew, thought this post was about me. Fortunately it wasn't.

    The Pacific was a weird air-war. Feast, famine, feast, famine, and the ocean always wanting it's share of death. Not to mention, the overly-salty air was not the best for planes.

    And he just ran out. Play the odds long enough and the House always wins, one way or another.


    As to the couple? That sucks too. Prayers to the grands, to the parents and to the angel. 2 years old is just too young.

    Glad your office is almost finished. Now comes the rehab of the old house. Is your wife hiring contractors or are you the contractor?

    1. Pudgy was the name of his airplanes as well as his wife's nickname. But...unfortunately, could be applied to me also. Although this moving thing has caused some of the pudginess to disappear. Now, comes the hard part...

      Yep, see my Old/bold pilot in my reply to Sarge above.

      Yeah, it does.

      Well, for the sucky part of the rehab, also known as cleaning, painting and tearing out old, smelly, stained stuff (especially the carpet) guess who. For the making things newish again, it'll be me also (reaching for my checkbook and writing the contractor a check)

  6. McQuire was my favorite 38 pilot. He had three rules: Never turn with the enemy, keep your speed up, keep high. He broke all three rules to help out his wing man, and paid the price. Loyal and a warrior. What's not to like. It always bugged me that politics were played with the aces, instead to unleashing the hounds on the enemy. REMFs... what a waste of good men....

    And I lifted up your temporary family when I thought about them. Anytime I hear of a head injury, it's serious and gets my attention. Being on the inside of one is not a happy place....

    Great post today, Lead. Thanks.

    1. I've got a future post planned for just that subject STxAR, so don't let the cat out of the bag.

      Thanks, and given your circumstances, I can see why it would.


  7. Thoughts and many prayers up for Phil and Teresa and their grandbaby. I've got a two year old in my world who owns and operates the biggest part of me. We don't get to know why, at least not in this life. We do get to walk in the sunlight of God's spirit in good times as well as incredibly hard times. It's good that the grieving couple found respite in your place. You're doing the Lord's work Mr. & Mrs. J, as I and my family know very well.

    Fifth Air Force; for some reason not known as well as the ETO branch. But holy smokes, all those DR miles over open ocean, with combat in the middle. Heroes is much to small a concept.

    It's good to know and think about the sacrifices of those who helped solidify the liberty that so few of us Americans seem to understand these days.

    Thanks Juvat.

    1. Thanks, PA. You and yours feature prominently in my evening's discussions with the Big Guy. Hang in there!

      As I mentioned in a previous comment, that 5AF is a subject of an upcoming post. I remember fighting a 2 v 2 with F-16s at Misawa one December morn. I've got the perfect bounce going and as I ram the throttles into burner and start the conversion turn from well above them, my right engine compressor stalls. Loub bang, fire coming out the intake, Betty complaining about overtemp, Blah, blah, blah. I shut down the engine, relit it and it immediately compressor stalls. Well heck, I clear off the 16s and my wingman and I start heading home. I dial in Misawa. It's on the nose for 200 NM. My first non emergency procedure thought was "Damn, I'm glad I'm not flying an F-16!"

      Yep, Voted today, it started at 7, Mrs J and I got there about 10, took about 15 minutes to get in the door, but the folks running the show had their act together. All told it took about 30 minutes. I finished before Mrs J so I was outside talking to one of the deputies on duty. He said that when the polls opened, the line went around the block. Made me happy and a tad more confident in the outcome.

  8. Thoughts and prayers for them. And yes, McGuire was truly a hero, in the best sense of the word.

  9. Great story on McGuire. The fighter pilot part of me is in awe.

    As to the yoke instead of a stick, one can do some pretty quick maneuvering in a C-130 with the yoke. I have done overhead approaches in a C-130 if that will give a parameter to work with. But still a stick seems more natural for a very manuverable aircraft.

    My prayers for the grandparents and their granddaughter.


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