Monday, May 27, 2024

Jeb Burton to race P-38 Lightning tribute at Pocono

Jeb Burton‘s #27 Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet Camaro will sport a special livery for Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series round at Pocono Raceway as it will be coloured in grey with metallic pattern and United States Army Air Force markings, forming a tribute scheme to Medal of Honor recipient Major Thomas McGuire Jr.

McGuire flew a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, nicknamed “Pudgy” as a nod to his wife Marilynn, in the Second World War. He served in the Pacific theatre with distinction as he recorded the second most kills among American pilots in the conflict with thirty-eight. Five aircraft with the nickname would be flown by McGuire until he was killed in action in the Philippines in January 1945, though his P-38 in that fateful battle was dubbed “Eileen Ann”.

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor with his citation reading as follows:

“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.”

The McGuire Air Force Base and the broader Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst in New Jersey are named in his memory.

Besides resembling the aircraft in question, Burton’s car features the text “PUDGY (V)” along the front quarter panels in reference to the five that McGuire flew under the name. The livery came together thanks to sponsor Puryear Tank Lines, who provides transport services of materials like waste, dry bulk, and hazardous materials.

A Boeing KC-46 Pegasus with the callsign “Pegasus” will also fly over the track as part of pre-race festivities. Burton will start twelfth.

The 30-year-old is currently in his first year with Jordan Anderson Racing. Despite a slow start to the season as he failed to record a top ten, continuing a dry spell that included the entire 2022 season, he clinched a playoff spot by winning Talladega in April for the second time; the victory was also the first for JAR. After eighteen races, Burton sits thirteenth in points with three top tens.