In tribute: Decorated pilot was hero at home, family says

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Allen McGuire served his country in three armed conflicts, but that’s not why his daughter thinks everyone at his funeral service called him a hero.

“I don’t think they were talking about his war record,” Martha McGuire said. “I’m confident they were talking about what a remarkable husband, father and friend he was.”

McGuire’s family remembers an upbringing deeply entrenched in service to the Air Force with stints throughout the world, but a home life centered on family with hand-cranked ice cream on the weekends and carrying young children to their beds when they’d fallen asleep in front of the television.

“He was a fun father and a good husband, and family life was family life and Air Force life was Air Force life,” said his wife, Fay McGuire. “He seemed to do a really good job of separating them.”

Fay and Allen met when she was 16, harvesting tomatoes like many girls her age in Clarksville, Texas. The two didn’t converse then because Fay’s mother didn’t want her socializing with male coworkers, but fate gave them another meeting two years later when she worked as a soda jerk as local pharmacy.

He found another love while in Clarksville — flying. On a dare, he went up into the air with a barnstormer, who let him play with the controls while in the air. From then on, he was interested in flying but couldn’t enlist in the Army Air Corps because of a requirement that pilots graduate college.

The requirement was relaxed in 1942 because of a need for combat pilots in World War II. Soon after, he enlisted, and he and Fay eloped in Texarkana just before basic training.

“That was during the war, and a lot of people did that,” Fay said. “There weren’t very many big weddings during WWII. We just went to a church, got a preacher, said our vows and that was it.”

Three years later, they started a family, raising seven children during assignments at Wiesbaden Air Force Base in Germany, Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa and Saigon during the Vietnam War.

“We got to see the world because of dad,” said Martha, who resides in Houston. “We were stationed in Germany, that’s where Tim was born. We got to live in western Europe and Asia. It was such a broadening experience.”

The family relocated to Cannon Air Force Base in 1969. After his retirement from the military in 1973, he worked as an agent for Town & Country Real Estate.

It was in Clovis the family spent countless nights supporting one sibling or another involved in Clovis High sports. Tim McGuire said what he remembered the most was how his father would act like a tycoon every payday and end dinners by saying the king of England didn’t eat better than he did.

“The same thing could happen to two people,” Tim McGuire said. “One of them will take it as a terrible setback and the other will see it as an opportunity. For my dad, every paycheck was a fortune and every meal was a banquet, and that’s how he lived his life.”

In Tribute is a regular feature. To suggest an honoree, contact CNJ managing editor Rick White at 763-6991 or by e-mail: