Major General Cuthbert A. "Bill" Pattillo
Cuthbert A. "Bill" Pattillo Cuthbert Bill Pattillo © USAF
© USAF

Silver Star
Legion of Merit Medal with 2 Oak Leaf ClustersDistinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf ClusterAir Medal with 12 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air MedalAir Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf ClusterArmy Commendation Medal
Presidential Citation Unit with 2 Oak Leaf ClustersOutstanding Unit Award with Valor and Oak Leaf ClusterPrisoner of War Medal
Combat Readiness MedalPresidential Citation Unit with 2 Oak Leaf ClustersAmerican Campaign Medal European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 Bronze StarsWWII Victory MedalArmy of Occupation Medal Medal for Humane ActionNational Defence Service Medal with 1 Bronze StarArmed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Service Medal with 3 Bronze StarsAir Force Overseas Short Tour Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf ClustersAir Force Overseas Long Tour Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters Air Force Longevity Service Award 1 Silver 2 Bronze OLCPresidential Citation Unit with 2 Oak Leaf ClustersFrench Croix De Guerre with Bronze Palm Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor MedalVietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation MedalRepublic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Units: 487th FS, 352nd FG
WWII score: 1 aerial kill
1 damaged in the air
6 strafing kills
3 damaged while strafing
Born: Atlanta, Georgia, 03/06/1924
Rank: Major General
Medals: * Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with 2 OLC
* Silver Star
* Legion Of Merit Medal with 2 OLC
* Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 OLC
* Air Medal with 13 OLC
* Air Force Commendation Medal with 1 OLC
* Army Commendation Medal
* Presidential Citation Unit with 2 OLC
* Outstanding Unit Award with Valor and 1 OLC
* Prisoner of War Medal
* Combat Readiness Medal
* American Campaign Medal
* European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 Stars
* WWII Victory Medal
* Army of Occupation Medal
* Medal for Humane Action
* National Defence Service Medal with 1 Star
* Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
* Vietnam Service Medal with 3 Stars
* Air Force Overseas Short Tour Medal with 2 OLC
* Air Force Overseas Long Tour Medal with 2 OLC
* Air Force Longevity Service Award with 7 OLC
* French Croix De Guerre
* Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal
* Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Medal
* Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Aircraft: P-51K, HO-Y
SN: 44-11556

"Sweet & Lovely"

P-51D, HO-O
SN: 44-14790
"Sweet & Lovely"

   
 
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Thunderbirds are go

Both brothers were released from active duty in December of 1945 and they both enrolled as engineering students at the Georgia Institute of Technology. While attending school, they also both flew with the 128th FS, 54th Fighter Wing of the Georgia Air National Guard. Bill was a flight commander there, flying P-47s.

He remained in service with the George ANG until he was recalled to active duty with the USAF on March 26th , 1948, flying Mustangs again and being assigned to the 31st FG at Turner AFB, Georgia. After that, he and his brother served with the 22nd FS of the 36th TFW at Fustenfeldbruck AFB, Germany, from January of 1949 until July of 1952.

There, they flew jets, more specifically the P-80 Shooting Star and F-84 Thunderjet.

While stationed in Europe, both brothers helped organise and flew with the USAF Europe Aerial Demonstration Team, the “Skyblazers”, also flying P-80s and later F-84s. Bill was a Captain at this time and flew right wing of the demo team in over 250 air shows in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Bill Pattillo Skyblazers © Aerobatic Teams.net


Top: Bill and his twin brother Buck were co-founders of the first USAF aerobatic team, the Skyblazers (© Aerobatic Teams.net)
Above: The Skyblazer pilots, left to right: Capt. Cuthbert A. "Bill" Pattillo, Lt. Lawerence D. Damewood, Maj. Harry K. Evans, Capt. Charles "Buck" Pattillo
Below left: First USAF Demonstration Team "Thunderbirds" pilots, left to right: Capt. Bob Kanaga, Buck, Capt. Bob McCormick, Maj. Dick Catledge, Bill

The original Thunderbird squad © USAFIn October of 1952, he was assigned to Pinecastle AFB in Florida, as fighter gunnery instructor with the 3542nd Flying Training Squadron. In March of 1953, both brothers were assigned to Luke AFB, Arizona, as fighter gunnery instructors. At this time, both also helped organize and were part of the USAF Demonstration Team, the Thunderbirds, which were designated the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit at that time.

Seven officers and twenty-two enlisted were selected for the first demonstration team, most were handpicked from the cadre at Luke AFB. Major Dick Catledge, a training Sqn Commander at Luke AFB, was chosen as the team's leader. Bill and Buck (both Captains by now) flew right and left wing respectively during the first display season. The slot position was filled in by Capt. Bob Kanaga, also an instructor at Luke AFB. The Thunderbirds were initially a four-ship demo team, flying the F-84G Thunderjet and later the F-84F Thunderstreak. They became the worlds' first supersonic demo team when they switched to the F-100C Super Sabre in 1956. They moved to Nellis AFB that same year.

Bill & Buck Pattillo Thunderbirds © USAF
Above and below: Bill and Buck flying right and left wing respectively with the early USAF Demonstration Team "Thunderbirds"
Bill & Buck Pattillo Thunderbirds © USAF

In 1954, Bill was assigned as commander of the 3603rd Combat Crew Training Sqn at Luke AFB.

In November of 1955, he became the Air Operations Officer with the 613th Fighter-Bomber Sqn, 401st Tactical Wing at England AFB, Louisianna. In December of 1956 he served a six-month temporary tour as 9th AF liaison officer with Tactical Air Command rotational units at Aviano Air Base, Italy, before returning to England AFB in June of 1957 to serve briefly with the 401st Fighter-Bomber Group as operations officer. In September of 1957, he went on to command the 615th Fighter Squadron, 401st TFW, also at England AFB.

In September of 1959, he entered the University of Colorado, under the Air Force Institute of Technology program, where he earned a degree in mathematics in January of 1962.

He then joined the 4450th Standardization and Evaluation Group in Langley, Virginia, from February of 1962 to August of 1964, and then attended the Army War College from August of 1964 to August of 1965.

At this time, both brothers were promoted to Colonel and were assigned for duty in Germany. Bill became Deputy Commander of Operations with the 50th TFW at Hahn Air Base, Germany, from August of 1965 to February of 1967. Upon this assignment, he and his twin brother were separated in active duty for the first time in over 23 years of military service.

In February of 1967, he became director of safety for the US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) at Lindsey Air Station in West-Germany.

In August of 1968, war loomed again and Bill became vice commander of the 3rd TFW at Bien Hoa Air Base in the Republic of Vietnam where he flew the F-100 Super Sabre. He also became vice commander of the 31st TFW at Tuy Hoa Air Base in October of 1968. By February of 1969, he would assume full command of that Wing. Bill flew 230 combat missions during his tours of duty in Vietnam and earned a Silver Star for a mission in South Vietnam on November 8th , 1968. The citation read: Colonel Cuthbert A. Pattillo distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force near Quan Long City, South Vietnam on 8 November 1968. On that date, Colonel Pattillo was flying an F-100 in close air support of friendly troops in contact with a hostile force. In spite of intense, accurate ground fire and with total disregard for his own personal safety, he repeatedly pressed his attack causing devastating destruction to the hostile forces. Although his aircraft was severely damaged as a result of the hostile fire he elected to, and successfully did, land his crippled aircraft at a nearby airfield. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Colonel Pattillo has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”

He returned to the States in October of 1969 and was assigned to the Tactical Air Command headquarters at Langley, Virginia, as assistant deputy chief of staff, plans and later operations.

He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1970.

On September 1st , 1972, he was assigned to Headquarters USAF at Washington DC as Director of Operations, and was promoted to Major General.

In May of 1974 he again changed assignments, this time as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Intelligence at NATO. He was again transferred in July of 1977, to US Readiness Command, MacDill AFB, Florida, as Director of Plans and Policy. He stayed in this function until October of 1979, when he became Deputy Commander in Chief.

He retired from the USAF in 1980, having accumulated over 5,000 flying hours and receiving such honors as the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 13 oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Service Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit with 2 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Army Commandation Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon, French Croix de Guerre with palm and the Republic of Vietnam Honor Medal,1 st class.

Today P-51D-25-NA, N451D, was restored in his honor and General Pattillo attended EAA Venture at Oshkosh in 2009, along with his twin brother Buck. Bob Baker also restored P-51D-30-NA, N5551D, “Little Rebel”, Buck's P-51 and both brothers flew side by side once more, in the backseat of the Mustangs they once flew over 60 years ago.

You can view some footage of EAA Oshkosh 2009 below:

Movie clip 1
Movie Clip 2

Bill posing in front of another P-51 © 352nd FG Association Archive
Above: Bill posing in front of another P-51 (© 352nd FG Association Archive)
Sweet & Lovely © 352nd FG Association Archive
Above: Colorized image of Bill's 44-14790 HO-O "Sweet & Lovely". Note that the name in this image was painted in the wrong colour.(© 352nd FG Association Archive)
Bill and crew © 352nd FG Association Archive
Above: Bill and his crew posing in front of his second Mustang 44-14790 HO-O "Sweet & Lovely".(© 352nd FG Association Archive)
Pattillo brothers © 352nd FG Association Archive
Above and below: Bill and Buck posing in front of Buck's P-51 44-13737 PZ-W "Little Rebel" in Bodney in 1945 and again in Oshkosh in 2009 when both brothers were reunited with both P-51s restored by Bob Baker in their honour. (© 352nd FG Association Archive, with a big thanks to both Bill and Buck for their personally signed copy of the photo. © picture below Scott Slocum)
Pattillo brothers © Scott Slocum

Pattillo brothers © Scott Slocum
Above: both brothers flying in formation again in the back seat of "their" P-51s during EAA Oshkosh in 2009. (© Scott Slocum)

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