Back to
Normandy American Cemetery Welcome Screen

Michael G. H. McPharlin

Headquarters, 339th Fighter Group

Major, U.S. Army Air Forces

Entered the Service from:

Michigan

Died:

6/6/1944

Grave Location:

Plot E, Row 1, Grave 43

Maj. Michael G. H. McPharlin poses for a picture by his P-51 6N-Z "Wee Ginny".

Maj. Michael G. H. McPharlin was a self-described misfit in the 339thFighter Group. Before the war, McPharlin was a medical student in Germany who spoke fluent German. He tried to enlist in the Army Air Corps but was rejected because of his height. Undaunted, he traveled to Canada where he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. They wanted him to serve as a medical officer, but he insisted on becoming a fighter pilot. For two years, he served in England as a member of the American Eagle Squadron of the Royal Air Force, gaining a reputation as an ace fighter pilot.

No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron Hurricanes sit on the runway at Kirton-in-Lindsey.

In 1942 flying with No. 71 Eagle Squadron, McPharlin shared in several FW-190 kills and one of a JU-88 bomber. He knew the Germans were monitoring RAF radio channels, so he’d reportedly curse in German and dare them to come up to fight their aircraft. During a commando raid on Dieppe, he was shot down over the English Channel and rescued. After the Eagle Squadrons were transferred to the 4thFighter Group, McPharlin returned to the United States. He was married in December 1942 and then returned to Europe, having been assigned to the 339thFighter Group.

McPharlin never actually flew a mission with the 339th. Instead, he often flew with his buddies from the No. 71 Eagle Squadron in the 334thFighter Squadron. He scored one and a half kills flying with them in May 1944. (A half kill is when two pilots shoot down one enemy aircraft). 

During a strafing mission on June 6, 1944, McPharlin was reported missing. He radioed that his left magneto (an electrical generator within the engine) was out, the engine was running rough, and he was aborting the mission. His crash site and his remains were located near Evreux at 9 p.m. that evening. 

McPharlin (left) pictured with his best friend Oscar Coen who married McPharlin's widow after the war.

Awards: Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters

Michael G. H. McPharlin is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot E, Row 1, Grave 43.