Medal of Honor winner Maj. Tommy McGuire
published: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Centennial dedication ceremony will honor Maj. Thomas McGuire
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING - Major Thomas B. McGuire is best known as a fearless military leader during his run in the United States Air Force in the 1940s. The decorated hero has roots here in Highlands County and will soon be honored by the city of Sebring in conjunction with its Centennial Celebration.
McGuire graduated from Sebring High School in 1938. The young man soon after enrolled in college at Georgia Tech. McGuire spent his first three years of college studying before leaving college to join the Army Air Corps in 1941.
McGuire attended flying school in Corsicana, Texas where he worked and studied his craft before earning his wings at Randolph Field.
The pilot quickly gained a name for himself during his short four years of service in the military. McGuire was named one of the two top aces during World War II in the Pacific war operations. The decorated aviator earned all of his honors and medals before his 25th birthday, including the prestigious Medal of Honor.
A few years after McGuire's death on Jan. 7, 1945, the New Hanover Township Air Force base was named after the achieved aviator. The McGuire Air Force Base is just a small portion of a legacy left behind by McGuire.
Several long-time Sebring residents have worked together to create the Major Thomas McGuire Memorial Dedication.
Marvin Kahn is one of the many faces behind the tribute to the 'homegrown hero' and knows that the event is a collective effort of many life-long friends.
"I've never been involved with anything that has been so uniformly accepted by everyone ... This has attracted so many diverse people that all have a pure intention for this idea," Kahn said.
Kahn grew up in Sebring and though McGuire was several years older, Kahn knew him well. Kahn's close friend, Charles Martin, was closer in age to McGuire and remembered him from Sebring High School.
"Charles knew him from school. His (Charles') dad, Dr. Martin, had an airplane and back then in little Sebring that was a big deal. The plane sort of lead him to admiring this man," Kahn explained.
Martin authored a book titled "The Last Great Ace"; the book shows the life of McGuire during his time spent in the military. Martin and Kahn continue to show the community the legacy that McGuire has left behind.
Kahn's close friend, the late Jack Stroup, came up with the idea about six years ago, but many other hands have helped to pull together the memorial dedication. Others - including Susan Milan, Harold Marsh, Bob Pollard, Robert Freeland and Gary Lamperelli - all have a strong connection and admiration of McGuire and have all teamed up to make the unique event possible.
At 3 p.m. Saturday Oct. 20 at the Sebring Regional Airport a dedication will take place. During the event several guests - including retired Army General Robert A. Lee, Sebring Mayor George Hensley and many others - will hold a ceremony that will tie in with the Centennial week celebrations.
Kenilworth Boulevard will be dedicated to the memory of McGuire and will become known as "Maj. Thomas B. McGuire Memorial Boulevard."
The ceremony will take place at the airport terminal and the public is welcome to the event.
"We have a very wonderful event planned," Kahn said. "This event has drawn so many people that are just great."
Major Thomas B. McGuire Jr. Memorial Building (by: Pudgy V. - 10/14/2012)
The Major Thomas B. McGuire Jr. Memorial Building can be found at 7205 South George Building in Sebring. This is the location of the Highlands County Health Department. At the front entrance there is a large boulder with a plaque dedicated to Highlands County's only Medal of Honor recipient.
Maj. Thomas McGuire (by: James Ridley - 10/14/2012)
Describing the Medal of Honor (sometimes called the Congressional Medal of Honor) as "prestigious" makes me wonder what Ms.Gholar would call the Grand Canyon? Large? It happens to be the highest military decoration our country can award. Harry Truman was supposed to have said that he'd rather have the Medal of Honor than be president.
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