|George Earl Preddy, Jr.
© 352nd FG Association Archive
||9thFS, 49th FG
487th FS, 352nd FG
328th FS, 352nd FG
||* 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)
||P-40E, Sq. #85, "TARHEEL"
"Cripes A'Mighty 3rd"
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|Six on the 6th |
George Preddy's moment in history came on August 6th. That day he was scheduled to lead the entire group on an escort mis-sion but the mission was scrubbed due to forecast bad weather. With a free day ahead the group threw a big party and engaged in a crap game. After taking the most of the winnings and after having a couple of drinks too many, George returned to his quarters. He wasn't granted a lot of rest however as shortly after midnight the officer of the day appeared: the mission was on again, to Berlin!
George gave the briefing and fell off the platform. The group commander judged that Preddy was not in shape to lead, but Meyer assured him that George would be ready by takeoff time. Here's his encounter report of that day:
“I was group leader. We were escorting the lead combat wings of B-17's when 30-plus Me-109's in formation came into the third box from the south. We were a thousand feet above them so I led white flight in astern of them. I opened fire on one near the rear of the formation from 300 yards dead astern and got many hits around the cockpit. The enemy aircraft went down inverted and in flames. At this time Lt. Doleac became lost while shooting down an Me-109 that had gotten on Lt. Heyer's tail. Lt. Heyer and I continued our attack and I drove up behing another enemy aircraft getting hits around the wing roots and setting him on fire after a short burst. He went spinning down and the pilot bailed out at 20,000 feet … We continued with our attack on the rear end of the formation and I fired on another from close range. He went down smoking badly and I saw him begin to fall apart below us. At this time four other P-51's came in to help us with the attack. I fired at another 109 causing him to burn after a short burst. He spiraled down to the right in flames. The formation headed down in a left turn keeping themselves together in rather close formation. I got a good burst into another one causing him to burn and spin down. The enemy aircraft were down to 5,000 feet now and one pulled off to the left. I was all alone with them now so went after this single 109 before he could get on my tail. I got in an ineffective burst causing him to smoke a little. I pulled up into a steep climb to the left above him and he climbed after me. I pulled it in as tight as possible and climbed at about 150 miles per hour. The Hun opened fire on me but could not get enough deflection to do any damage. With my initial speed I slightly out-climbed him. He fell off to the left and I dropped down astern of him. He jettisoned his canopy as I fired a short burst getting many hits. As I pulled past, the pilot bailed out at 7,000 feet. I had lost contact with all friendly and enemy aircraft so headed home alone.
Claim: Six Me 109s destroyed”
You can read George Preddy's combat report on the August 6th victories here (courtesy of www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org)
It was the first time any pilot had downed six enemy aircraft in one single mission in the European Theater of Operations. It was also the last time Preddy flew "Cripes A' Mighty 3rd" , which now displayed 31 crosses.
On landing, a slightly green Preddy vowed never again to fly with a hangover. He commented, "I just kept shooting, and they just kept falling". That mission earned him the Distinguished Service Cross and an well deserved leave in the States.
Recorded right after his return from the mission of August 6th,1944, the strain and fatigue of the often 6 hour missions clearly show
Click the image below for a videoclip containing gun camera footage of George Preddy's
mission on August 6th, 1944, setting a record of 6 kills on one mission
(© 352nd FG Association Archive))
Return to combat
Preddy returned to the ETO in October 1944 as CO of the group's 328th Squadron who had at that time the lowest total score of enemy aircraft in the group. George quickly left his mark: leading the squadron on November 2nd, they ripped apart a gaggle of Bf-109s, downing no less than 25, setting a squadron record for the ETO.
With his return to the ETO and his new group, he also received a brand new P-51D which he simply named Cripes A' Mighty. During the mission of November 2nd, George also added another victory to his total, it was his first with his new squadron. A few weeks later he added one more which brought his score to 26.5 aerial victories and 5 ground victories.
(© 352nd FG Association Archive)
Christmas Day 1944
During the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, elements of the group were moved to fighter strip Y-29, Asche, Belgium. On Christmas Day, Preddy led ten P-51s on a patrol. They were vectored to a formation of enemy planes, and in the ensuing fight, though the squadron became scattered, Preddy downed two more Bf-109s. He and his wingman, Lt. James Cartee, were then vectored to an unknown number of bandits near Liege. Preddy saw a FW-190 on the deck and went after him at treetop height. As Preddy closed in on the 190, he suddenly noticed intenst ground fire coming up at him in one large barrage. He broke off the attack in a sharp chandelle to the left but not in time to escape the wall of fire put up by the American anti-aircraft batteries, eager to shoot down the enemy aircraft they heard coming. At about 700ft. the canopy came off and Cripes A' Mighty nosed down, still in a turn ... George Preddy, the leading active American ace and top P-51 Mustang ace, was sadly hit by friendly ground fire and killed.
Click the image below for a videoclip telling the final moments
of George E. Preddy. Exerpt taken from the DVD
The Mustang ace"
(© The Preddy Memorial Foundation)
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