Major George Earl Preddy, Jr.
George Earl Preddy, Jr. George E. Preddy © 352nd FG Association Archive
© 352nd FG Association Archive

Distinguished Service Cross ribbonSilver Star with one Oak Leaf cluster ribbonDistinguished Flying Cross with eight Oak Leaf clusters ribbon
Purple Heart ribbonAir Medal with seven Oak Leaf clusters ribbonPresidential Unit Citation ribbon
American Defence ribbonAmerican Campaign ribbonAsiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon one star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon four starsWorld War II Victory ribbonCroix de Guerre ribbon with bronze palm
Units: 9thFS, 49th FG
487th FS, 352nd FG
328th FS, 352nd FG
WWII score: 26.83
Born: Greensboro, 02/05/1919
Rank: Major
Medals: * Distinguished Service Cross
* Silver Star with 1 oak leaf cluster
* Distinguished Flying Cross with 8 oak leaf clusters
* Purple Heart (posthumously)
* Air Medal with 7 oak leaf clusters
* Presidential Unit Citation
* American Defence Medal
* American Campaign Medal
* Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 1 Battle Star
* European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 Battle Stars
* World War II Victory Medal
* Croix de Guerre (Belgium)
Aircraft: P-40E, Sq. #85, "TARHEEL" P-47D-5-RE, HO-P
42-8500
"Cripes A'Mighty"

P-51B-10-NA, HO-P
42-106451
"Cripes A'Mighty"

P-51D-5-NA, HO-P
44-13321
"Cripes A'Mighty 3rd"

P-51D-15-NA, PE-P
44-14906
"Cripes A'Mighty"

   
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I must become an aviator

George Earl Preddy, Jr. was born and raised in the small town of Greensboro, North Carolina. Besides George, his mother Clara had three other children: Bill, Jonnice and Rachel Preddy. George finished highschool at the age of sixteen. About three years after graduating, he went on his first airplane ride. On a beautifull Sunday afternoon he was taken on a flight to Danville, Virginia, by Hal Foster (a friend of the family) in a 1933 Aeonca. The ride changed his life: from that point on he knew he “must become an aviator”.

Within a few months after this flight, George Preddy learned to fly. His flight instructor was Bill Teague, who owned a Waco. After George soloed, they both invested in the purchase of a second Waco and went on a barnstorming tour across the country.

The year was 1939 when Hitler's armies invaded Poland. It was then when George applied for the first time to fly with the military. He was denied training with the Navy because of physical limitations (according to the Navy doctors, he had a small curvature of his spine, was found too small and had a high blood pressure). George, not to take no for an answer, applied 2 more times for the Navy but was rejected on both attempts. As a result, he spent the summer of 1940 barn-storming along with Bill.

Once the barnstorming tour came to an end, George renewed his efforts in getting into military flying. This time he tried for the Army Air Corps and passed their exams with flying colors the first time. Thus he was accepted and placed on a long waiting list for a cadet class. On the advice of one of the Army Air Corps recruiters, he enlisted in the National Guard and was assigned to basic training with the 252nd Coast Artillery. Moments before the group was scheduled for Puerto Rico, George finally received the letter he had waited for a long time: he was to report to the Army Air Corps for training.

George underwent training in the PT-17 Kaydet, AT-6 Texan and Curtiss P-36. He graduated just 5 days after the Pearl Harbor attack and joined the 49th Pursuit Group after a short leave.

Down under

George Preddy Tarheel © 352nd FG Association ArchiveOn January 11, 1942, the 49th Pursuit Group was shipped out to Melbourne, Australia. The final destination were the airfields around Darwin. There George first flew the P-40 and participated in the defense against the Japanese. George named his P-40 Tarheel, after the state he grew up in.

The 9th Squadron missed out on most of the action against the often more superior Zero's, much to George's frustration. He had his mind set on finding and destroying enemy aircraft and finally got his first chance on March 30, 1942 but missed a perfect shot on a Zero by not turning one gun switch on. Other pilots of the 9th , such as John D. Landers had more success in the Pacific: his final tally was 14.5 aerial and 20 strafing victories (That score included both the ETO & the Pacific; Landers became Group CO at a very early age).
On April 27, George finally succeeded in damaging 2 Japanese aircraft: a Zero and a Mitsubishi bomber, but a few months later tragedy struck. George went up on a training mission with a flight of four. On a simulated bomber pass, Lt. John Sauber's P-40 collided with George's P-40, hitting it just behind the cockpit. George had to bail out and ended up with a deep hole in his calf and a baldy cut hip and shoulder as a result of hitting a branch on the way down. Recuperating from these injuries took several months and when he finally returned to his outfit he received orders to return to the US.

George Preddy Tarheel © 352nd FG Association Archive The left side of George's P-40 "Tarheel" (both pictures © 352nd FG Association Archive)

Transition to the Jug

In October 1942, Preddy arrived at Hamilton Field, California, looking for an assignment, but it wasn't until December 1942, when he was assigned to Mitchel Field, NY, that he became a member of the 487th FS, 352 FG.

It was Lt. Jack Donalson, with whom he was flying the day he had the midair collision in Australia, who pulled some strings and convinced John C. Meyer, commanding officer of the 34th FS (later to be the 487th FS) that George E. PreddyPreddy was the right man for the job as a fighter pilot. During his stay at Mitchell Field, George also got to know his new fighter aircraft: the P-47 Thunderbolt.

On June 30th , 1943, the group went on board the Queen Elizabeth and set sail to England.

In July 1943, the 352nd Fighter Group, "The Blue-Nosed Bastards of Bodney," set up shop at Bodney, England. George flew his first combat mission in the ETO in September 1943 but he still didn't have any luck as far as shooting down the Hun was concerned. The journal he kept stated the following on November 26th , 1943:

“… I know that my day is coming and I am going to do everything possible to be ready when I do meet that Luftwaffe. Starting right now I am going to get in top physical and flying condition.”

Preddy's big day came on December 1st. That day he scored his first victory on a Bf-109. Three weeks later, he scored a second victory, fighting a superior force, as he was to do many times. He led his flight of three P-47s (one stayed up as top cover) against six Me-210s covered by 10 Bf-109s, that were attacking a B-24 straggler. In the melee, Preddy knocked down one Me-210, broke up the attack, and then lured the remaining enemy aircraft away from the damaged B-24.

George Preddy's P-47 'Cripes A' Mighty'  © 352nd FG Association Archive
© 352nd FG Association Archive

For his bravery on this mission, George was awarded a Silver Star.

The 352nd converted to P-51s in April 1944. Preddy, now a major, scored his fifth victory on May 13, making him an ace. Escorting bombers to Magdeburg on June 20th, Preddy shot down a FW-190 and shared an Me-410 with Lt. James Woods. Preddy was running out of time as he approached the end of a 200-hour combat tour. He requested, and was granted, four successive 50-hour extensions that kept him in the fight until early August.

On July 18th, the 352nd claimed 21 kills, 4 of them falling to George Preddy. His new mount, P-51D "Cripes A' Mighty 3rd" now displayed 21 victory crosses.

You can read George Preddy's combat report on the July 18th victories here (courtesy of www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org)

George Preddy 4 kills July 18th, 1944 George posing for a publicity shot after downing four enemy aircraft on July 18th, 1944.

Cripes A' Mighty 3rd © 352nd FG Association Archive
Cripes A' Mighty 3rd as it appeared on July 19th, 1944 (© 352nd FG Association Archive)

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