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OBITUARIES / PASSINGS / John M. Thacker

Fighter pilot at Pearl Harbor

March 25, 2009|TIMES STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

John M. Thacker, 90, a retired Air Force colonel and fighter pilot who received the Silver Star for his actions at Pearl Harbor, died of kidney disease March 6 at his home in McLean, Va.

Col. Thacker spent 30 years in what became the Air Force before retiring in 1970 after accumulating more than 5,400 total flying hours. He was among the few pilots to become airborne during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

His Silver Star citation said that he fought the numerically superior Japanese fliers until his guns jammed and that he returned to his base on Oahu with a number of cannon holes in his aircraft. "His initiative, coolness under fire and gallantry in the air contributed to driving off the enemy forces," read the citation, which was awarded in February 1942.

Thacker later commanded a fighter group during the Korean War. His final active-duty assignment was as inspector general of Headquarters Command at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.

After his military retirement, he owned and operated television and audio repair stores in Arlington, Va.

John Marshall Thacker was born Aug. 9, 1918, in Petersburg, Va., and grew up in Miami, where his father found work as a typewriter salesman. Thacker left the University of Florida in 1940 to join the Army Air Corps.

Besides the Silver Star, his military decorations included the Legion of Merit, two awards of the Bronze Star Medal and the Air Medal.

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news.obits@latimes.com

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