Lanphier, Thomas, born on 27-11-1915 in Panama City, Panama. After graduating from Stanford, he joined the USAAC, getting his wings in October, 1941. When the war started, he went to Fiji with the 35th Pursuit Group. His squadron, the 70th , was soon moved to Guadalcanal, joining the 347th Group. Lanphier flew 97 missions, in P-39’s and P-38’s, out of Henderson Field. He made his first kill in late December, 1942, shooting down a Zero. On April 7, the Japanese struck at Guadalcanal, with 67 Judy dive bombers, supported by 110 Zero fighters. Along with all the other “Cactus” fighter pilots, Lanphier scrambled to intercept. He claimed three Zeroes over Cape Esperance. Tom Lanphier played a leading role in one of the most successful and controversial missions of WWII, the shoot-down of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
. Lanphier was temporarily attached to the 339th squadron and selected to lead the flight of four “shooters,” the Lightnings that would actually intercept the Betty bombers of Yamamoto’s party. On April 18, sixteen Lightnings took off from Guadalcanal, headed for Bougainville and their deadly rendezvous with Admiral Yamamoto. They caught him and shot Yamamoto down, age 57. Lanphier Jr. here, center, chats with his father, Cololonel Thomas G. Lanphier Sr., and mother, Janet Lanphier.
The mission was a success with both of the “Betty” bombers being destroyed. Officially, the after-action report gave Captain Lanphier and his wingman Lieutenant Rex Theodor Barber each half-credit for the destruction of the plane carrying Yamamoto. It was only after Lanphier’s passing that an organized campaign began to nullify his half-credit for the victory and award full credit to his wingman. He was awarded with the DFC and Silver Star. The Japanese did not announce the death until a month later, and the United States did not award Lanphier his 1/2 credit until five months later because his brother, a Marine Corps fighter pilot, was a prisoner of war. After the famous mission, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and was assigned to the 2nd Air Force, ” Second to None” . When the war was over, he made his home in Idaho and later California.
Death and burial ground of Lanphier, Thomas George Jr..
He died on 26-11-1987, of cancer, age 71 and is buried on the Arlington National Cemetery, Section 11. also buried in Section 11 are,