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George Preddy: Top-Scoring World War II Mustang Ace

Originally published by Aviation History magazine. Published Online: November 06, 2006 
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The tropical heat in Darwin, Australia, was brutal on the afternoon of July 12, 1942, when four pilots of the U.S. Army Air Forces' 49th Fighter Group clambered into Curtiss P-40E fighters for what was supposed to be just one more training mission. They were First Lieutenant I.B. 'Jack Donalson and Second Lieutenants John Sauber, Richard Taylor and George Preddy Jr.

The mission started out in routine fashion, with Preddy and Taylor peeling off to play the role of Japanese bombers on which Sauber and Donalson would practice their interceptor skills via a dummy attack. Sauber made the first pass, but as he dived on Preddy's plane, he became disoriented, possibly blinded by the sun, and misjudged his distance. Too late he tried to pull up, but slammed into the tail of Preddy's aircraft at 12,000 feet, sending both planes tumbling earthward in flames.

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Preddy (left) reunites with his wingman, 1st Lt. William Whisner, shortly after having to bail out of his flak-stricken Republic P-47D Thunderbolt over the English Channel on January 29, 1944.

Sauber, who never made it out of his cockpit, was killed. Preddy managed to bail out but came down in a tall gum tree that shredded his parachute and dropped him through the branches to the hard ground below. Aided by Lieutenant Clay Tice, who spotted his position from his P-40, ground crewmen Lucien Hubbard and Bill Irving found Preddy, who had a broken leg and deeply gashed shoulder and hip. After the squadron's surgeon examined Preddy in the airfield's infirmary, he announced the young airman would have bled to death if he had not been found before morning.

George Preddy's bloody baptism into World War II had come at the hands of his own comrades. But he would recover from that initial mishap and be reassigned to another front, where his dogfighting skills made him the war's top-scoring North American P-51 Mustang ace at age 25.

When the U.S. Army Air Forces' 352nd Fighter Group arrived at Scotland's Firth of Clyde on July 5, 1943, its pilots were mostly grass-green rookies fresh from flight school. On that same day, however, Queen Elizabeth delivered a few seasoned campaigners to bolster the new unit. One of them was Preddy.

Learning to fly the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt meant Preddy had to do some retraining before he was battle-ready, but after a year out of action he was chafing for combat. The budding hero was addicted to crap games, and when he tossed the dice he would yell Cripes A' Mighty! for good luck. To enhance his chances aloft, he had those words painted on the nose of every warplane he ever flew.

Operating from Bodney Airfield, the 352nd got into the action on September 9, 1943, flying cover for out-of-ammunition and low-on-fuel Thunderbolts of the 56th and 353rd Fighter groups as they returned from escort missions. It was boring at first, but these newcomers would soon be in the midst of massive air battles over the Third Reich.

On what became known as Black Thursday, October 14, 1943, Preddy was among 196 frustrated escort pilots whose almost empty fuel tanks forced them to turn for home just as the Luftwaffe swept down onto Eighth Air Force bomber formations attacking the Schweinfurt ball bearing works. The resulting carnage among the unguarded bombers made it clear the P-47's 200-gallon-per-hour fuel consumption handicapped its value as an escort fighter.

Short range notwithstanding, Preddy and Cripes A' Mighty stayed busy sticking as close and long as possible to the Strategic Bombing Offensive's four-engine formations throughout the autumn of 1943. On December 1, he and a formation of Thunderbolts rendezvoused with bombers returning from an attack on Solingen. He latched onto the tail of a Messerschmitt Me-109 approaching the last bomber box from the rear. When the German saw the charging P-47, he made the mistake of trying to outdive Preddy's 13,000-pound gun platform. At 400 yards Preddy opened fire and held down the firing button as he closed to 100 yards, disintegrating the luckless interceptor. Preddy's 487th Fighter Squadron was the only one in the 352nd Group to score kills on that day of light fighter opposition.

On December 22, the 352nd lifted off to guard part of a returning force of 574 bombers that had savaged the marshaling yards of Münster and Onabrück. Preddy's wingman that day was brilliant young concert pianist Lieutenant Richard L. Grow. Just east of the Zuider Zee, the pair of Americans became separated from the rest of their flight during a swirling, confused dogfight in blinding cumulus clouds. Climbing back to the bombers' altitude, they spotted a gaggle of six Messerschmitt Me-210s and 10 Me-109s chewing on the tail of a crippled Consolidated B-24 Liberator. Unhesitatingly diving into the interceptors, Preddy quickly torched the Me-210 nearest the bomber before the Me-109s could interfere. With the pack now chasing them, the intrepid Thunderbolt pilots plunged for the clouds. Preddy managed to outpace his pursuers, but the fighters on Grow's tail apparently finished him before he could reach the fleecy cloud cover. The blossoming concert star never made it back to Bodney, but the limping Liberator, Lizzie, got home. Preddy was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross for that action, but instead received his country's third-highest award for heroism, the Silver Star.

January's weather was both sides' worst enemy. On January 29, 1944, the ice storms abated long enough for 800 bombers to fly against the industrial district of Frankfurt. The 487th was part of the fighter presence dispatched to meet the bombers on their return leg. Preddy quickly shot down a Focke Wulf Fw-190 over the French coast, but then flew over a flak pit and was hit hard. He coaxed his smoking Thunderbolt up to 5,000 feet, but could not make it across the English Channel. When his dying warbird dropped below 2,000 feet, he bailed out and inflated his pressurized dinghy while his wingman, 1st Lt. William Whisner, circled overhead until air-sea rescue units could triangulate a radio fix on the downed airman. A Royal Air Force flying boat landed, but in the rough seas it ran over Preddy and nearly caused him to drown. Then the rescue plane broke a pontoon while trying to take off, and had to call for additional assistance. By the time a Royal Navy launch arrived to tow the crippled flying boat to port, however, the American airman had been given a quart of brandy by the British crew and was beginning to thaw out.

Soon after Preddy's Channel swim, the 352nd began to switch from the P-47 to North American's new P-51 Mustang fighter. On the morning of April 22, 1944, the 487th Squadron took off to shepherd bombers on a drawn-out mission to Hamm, Sost, Bonn and Koblenz. In between bombing runs, the Mustangs swooped down onto the airfield at Stade. Preddy and two comrades simultaneously opened fire on and pulverized a Junkers Ju-88 twin-engine bomber that had just taken off, resulting in each of the Americans receiving a .33 kill credit.

On April 30, Preddy shot down an Fw-190 in a one-on-one dogfight 17,000 feet above Clermont, France. From that point, now-Major Preddy's score would rise at a steady rate as he and his new airplane became better acquainted. Between April 30 and the Normandy landings on June 6, Preddy torched 4 1/2 enemy aircraft. He completed a standard 200-hour tour of duty and two 50-hour extensions, and was starting a third. He expressed little outward interest in his score, preferring instead to concentrate on how much nearer the war's end was drawing and what he could do to hasten it. As the pivotal summer 1944 battles on the Western Front churned below him, Preddy shot down nine more Germans from June 12 to August 5.

He downed an Me-109 on August 5, and when he returned to Bodney he heard the weatherman's prediction of bad flying conditions for the next day, along with word that no flights would be scheduled. That same night the 352nd gave its war bond drive party, and the combat-weary Preddy enjoyed himself greatly at the bash. Following that celebration, he reeled off to his quarters past midnight. Twenty minutes later an aide shook him awake to inform him a mission was scheduled after all, and it was his turn to serve as flight leader. After a farcical briefing during which he was so drunk he fell off the podium, Preddy's buddies sat him in a chair and held an oxygen mask over his nose until he appeared somewhat sober. They kept a close watch on their swaying major until takeoff, and continued to observe him as he led them aloft on a maximum-effort mission to Berlin.

The weather was beautiful, with mostly clear skies. The Luftwaffe was up in force. Before the Americans reached their target, more than 30 Me-109s intercepted the group of Boeing B-17s Preddy's unit was shepherding, arriving from the south. Preddy led an attack from astern and opened fire on a trailing plane, apparently killing the pilot. That Messerschmitt instantly heeled over and spiraled down in flames. Wading into the formation, Preddy came up behind a second Me-109 and ignited it with a flurry of hits to the port wing root. The pilot bailed out. Advancing into the enemy formation from the rear, the Americans picked off one fighter after another. Meanwhile those in front took no evasive action, seemingly unaware of the destruction creeping up from behind.

Preddy torched two more 109s before the remaining Germans perceived the trailing menace and went into a dive. The Mustangs followed hungrily. Preddy dispatched his fifth victim as the dwindling flock of Germans descended to 5,000 feet and one jerked his plane into a sharp left turn. This pilot had evidently seen Preddy and was trying to get onto his tail, but the American snap-rolled to the left and passed over his opponent. The German gamely tried to copy the maneuver and opened fire, but the angle was wrong for him. With the speed Preddy had built up in his roll, he was able to drop astern of his foe and fire from close range. That airman, too, bailed out.

After landing at Bodney, 1st Lt. George Arnold photographed a wan, sick-looking Preddy climbing from his out-of-ammunition Mustang. Gun camera footage and testimony from fellow pilots confirmed his achievement of six kills in one flight. War correspondents and photographers were on the way, and for the next few days Preddy was the most exalted soldier in Europe. Lieutenant Colonel John C. Meyer recommended his 25-year-old hero for the Medal of Honor for his exploits of August 6. To Meyer's surprise and anger, however, on August 12 Brig. Gen. Edward H. Anderson instead pinned the Distinguished Flying Cross on Preddy's tunic.

Counting ground victories and partial kills, Preddy's score now stood at 31, and another of his combat extensions had expired. It was time for him to go home on leave. He would never again fly Cripes A' Mighty 3rd — senior officers who incorrectly assumed the major was going home for keeps assigned it to another pilot. But as Preddy told his minister back in Greensboro, N.C., Reverend, I must go back. There was no way George Preddy was going to leave any job unfinished.

After almost two months at home Preddy managed to acquire a fourth tour extension, returning to England and taking command of the 352nd's 328th Fighter Squadron. He was given a brand-new P-51D-15NA. The 328th's victory tally trailed that of the other 352nd squadrons, and Preddy was expected to boost the pilots' confidence and morale. He did as much as he had time to do.

Following an uneventful mission on October 30, Preddy led his fliers on November 2 to escort bombers to Merseburg, Germany. Spotting more than 50 suspicious contrails at 33,000 feet, he set out to cut off the enemy's approach to the bombers, guiding his pack to the Me-109 formation's rear. Although he had never before used his plane's new British-designed K-14 gunsight, he fought as though he'd been using it for years, sending an Me-109 down in flames.

On November 21, Preddy destroyed an Fw-190 just before the overtaxed Luftwaffe virtually disappeared for an entire month. Daily, Preddy and his men scanned empty skies. Meanwhile, however, the Germans were building up their store of fighter aircraft in preparation for the looming Ardennes offensive. When 600,000 previously undetected Wehrmacht troops surged through the freezing, fog-draped Ardennes Forest on December 16, they were protected from aerial attack by the worst weather the Allies had seen since the invasion. For a full week the 352nd was grounded by cotton-thick overcast. When the 328th Squadron's pilots brazenly lifted off on December 23 from their new airfield outside Asch, Belgium, the clouds forced them to fly so low that they had to dodge trees. They found nothing to shoot at, and returned to base to spend another 48 frustrating hours in their freezing forest clearing encampment.

On Christmas Day Preddy and nine of his pilots took off for a hopeful sweep over confused woodland fighting. After patrolling for three fruitless hours, they received radar vectoring to intercept bandits just southwest of Koblenz. Diving on the targets, Preddy quickly flamed two Me-109s, forcing their pilots to hit the silk. The dogfight carried the combatants close to Li?ge, where Preddy latched onto the tail of an Fw-190. At less than 100 feet he was pouring bullets into his victim when an American anti-aircraft emplacement opened fire on both planes with .50-caliber machine guns. Realizing he was shooting at a friendly plane, the gunner stopped after firing only about 60 rounds, but it was too late. One of the big bullets had hit Preddy, and although he managed to release his canopy, he was unable to bail out. Mortally wounded, he crash-landed near the flak pit.

Major George Preddy never knew defeat in combat, but at age 25 he fell victim to human error. His status as the top-scoring Mustang ace of the war — with a total of 27 1/2 confirmed aerial kills — crystallized his standing as one of America's greatest war heroes.

Valor was apparently a family trait. On April 17, 1945, George's 20-year-old brother William, who had logged two victories in a P-51, was killed by anti-aircraft fire over Pilsen, Czechoslovakia.


This article was written by Kelly Bell and originally published in the July 2006 issue of Aviation History. For more great articles subscribe to Aviation History magazine today!


9 Responses to “George Preddy: Top-Scoring World War II Mustang Ace”


  1. 1
    ANDY SNELL says:

    You left out,in my opinion, a very important part ot the George Preddy story. CRIPES A MIGHTY #3, Georges Last P-51-D @ the 487fs, survived WW11 & was assigned to Capt. Stewart when george went state side. there were 4 or 5 others pilots that flew C.A.M.#3 in-cluding the CO., Col. John Meyer, who got 4 kills in it.
    CRIPES A MIGHTY #3 went on to make history as having highest,confirmed, no. of KILLS,(27.5). Higher, than any aircraft in WW-11. 18.5 in air combat & 9 ground kills. CRIPES A MIGHTY #3 did make History for George. Art Snyder was the crew chief. Andy Snell/487fs

  2. 2
    Koczar Koenig says:

    Not quite right Andy.

    CAM3 was eventually shot down. Brought down killing its last pilot, Lt. Walter Padden while strafing the airbase at Gonecker on the 16th April 45. Lt. Padden was said to of scored 2 ground victories during this action before being shot down by AA guns.

    And although Capt. Stewart did fly CAM3…it wasn't the same aircraft he flew during the "The Legend of Y-29 battle of 1st Jan 45.

    Capt. Stewart had passed on CAM3 to another pilot before the 1st Jan action.

    CAM3 was almost certainly the highest scoring P-51 of WW2…..which in all probablility made it the highest scoring US fighter of any model in the US Airforce in WW2.

    Some record.!

  3. 3
    Larry Walker says:

    Hello,

    I written to Sam Sox and asked if there is any new details or clues about CAM 3rd's whereabouts or Lt. Padden. The only details he could provide were somewhere between Ganacker and Ingoldstadt.

    Thank You.

  4. 4
    Sam Sox, Jr says:

    As co-author of the Preddy biography, want to thank you for making available the details of Major Preddy's career. Joe Noah and I completed the book, Joe for the second time, in the mid 80s. After the book was published, more details regarding Preddy's final mission came to light. In all books sold following the discovery of this altering information, we provided an addendum to the book. I am posting this here for our readers;

    "CHRISTMAS DAY 1944
    By Samuel L. Sox, Jr.

    This Addendum is an update to what we know happened during the final moments of Preddy’s last mission as recorded on page 160 of George Preddy, Top Mustang Ace. The purpose here is to correct inaccurate information in the book and in the one-hour video entitled, Preddy, The Mustang Ace. We now know that the details as passed on to us by Bill Cross were indeed the last moments of 4th Fighter Group pilot, Capt. Donald Emerson, who was also shot down and killed by friendly fire on Christmas Day. Emerson’s Mustang was found and identified, but no one has ever found any identifiable parts of George Preddy’s Mustang. The search continues! Here is what really happened to George Preddy on that fateful Christmas day during the Battle of the Bulge.

    The 9th Air Force, already operating from the continent for months providing close ground support for Allied armor and infantry, found itself much in demand and greatly overworked. The 9th sent an urgent request to the 8th Fighter Command requesting two additional fighter units to come to its aid. On the 23rd of December, Preddy led his 328th Squadron along with the 487th and 486th to a small remote 9th Air Force field located at Asch, Belgium, designated Y-29. The field was so close to the German lines that aircraft in the landing pattern were occasionally fired upon by enemy antiaircraft units.

    The 352nd was not accustomed to the tough living conditions it now faced. Living in tents was a far cry from the Nissen huts the pilots occupied at Bodney. Most of the troops thought they would freeze to death the first night. The next day was spent getting the unit settled down and assembled. The ground crews who were transported in C-47s became lost and arrived a day late. The first mission from Y-29 was a milk run, no action. Christmas Day found flyable ceilings and two missions were scheduled that day. Preddy led his unit on the second one, a support mission into Germany with the bombers from the 8th. Lt. Gordon Cartee was Preddy's wing man. Cartee recalls, "After stooling around for a while, due to no action, we were vectored to an area close to Koblenz, Germany, where enemy aircraft had been encountered. Preddy receiving the call said, "They've started without us, let's go join them." Preddy immediately turned in that direction. Just as Mitchell was about to peel off, he looked up and spotted two 109s coming down on him and Lambright. He called to Preddy for assistance, but there was so much chatter on the radio that Preddy never heard him. Mitchell believes to this day that, had Preddy heard his cry for help, he would never have placed himself into the series of events that were to follow.

    Cartee continues, "Preddy spotted two 109s and got into a Lufbery with the first one. Neither were gaining much advantage when all of a sudden another 109 cut in front of him. He eased up on his controls just enough, gave it a short burst, blazed it and then resumed his pursuit of the first one. The 109 lost his concentration seeing his buddy flamed and Preddy nailed him. Preddy's score now totaled 27.5 aerial and five ground victories. Moments later, Preddy and Cartee were vectored to an area southeast of Liege where it was reported that enemy aircraft were strafing Allied ground troops.

    As they neared Liege, they were joined by a white nose Mustang from the 479th FS, Lt. James Bouchier, who had become detached from his squadron. From the initial intercept point, approximately 3 to 4 miles SE of Liege, Preddy, now from a height of about 1500 feet, began to accelerate having picked out a long nosed FW-190 in the distance heading Northeast. He radioed “tally ho” to Control and was immediately cleared to make the intercept. There was also some talk between Control and Preddy about intense flak in the area of intercept and it being halted so the attack could be made. Unknown to Preddy, Cartee and Bouchier, was that their line of flight was taking them over the quad 50 cal. AA of “A” Battery of the 430th AA (who was attached to the 258th FABN XIX at that time) positioned on the west side of a large clump of trees 2 miles Southeast of Aachen, Germany. As they neared the AA gun positions, Preddy was hit first by ground fire, followed by Cartee and Bouchier. Cartee saw Cripes A'Mighty begin to lose coolant, the canopy come off and Preddy began a chandelle maneuver to his left. Cartee noticed that a tracer that had entered his cockpit was on the floor moldering. Without getting it out of the way, it could start a fire at his feet. He began trying to kick it around still trailing Preddy. Lt. Bouchier's Mustang also received fire, began smoking and he too broke left, climbing to about 1000' where he realized that he would have to bail out to free himself from his severely damaged P-51. He released his canopy, rolled the '51 over and dropped out safely landing in the British sector 7 to 8 miles North of where he had been hit. Further up Preddy's and Cartee's line of flight, now a couple miles South of Weisweiler, Sgt. Charles Brown, PFC John Starzynbski and Lt Murray Grobman ( 258th FABN XIX Corps) were standing at the NE edge of a very large wooded area approximately 2..5 miles SW from the a large church located in the little town of Langerwehe. They were startled by the sound of a sudden burst of quad 50-caliber mounted on a half track from behind and to their left. The burst lasted 3 to 4 seconds. When they looked to their left, just coming into their field of view was Preddy's Mustang, now upside down, approximately 200 to 300 feet altitude and 20 to 30 degrees nose down attitude.

    Up in the steeple of the church in Langerwehe, as had been the case on several other occasions, was Sgt. Harold M. Kennedy and his buddy Cpl. Elmer L. Dye (both with the 104th Inf. Division). While the Battle of the Bulge raged just a few miles away, it was relatively static in their sector where the Division had dug in on the chance that the Germans might veer in their direction. Division headquarters had been set up in a large steel foundry just north of Langerwehe. Dye and Kennedy had spent quite a few hours killing time by posting themselves in the church tower with binoculars and watching the considerable air activity along the front.

    Cartee recalled having passed over a wooded area and seeing in the distance a large church in their flight path. The woods NW of the church were occupied by elements of 555th AAA (AW) BN which were located on the northern edge of the German penetration. Their weapons were 40 mm anti-aircraft guns and quad .50 cal. machine guns. They were assigned to protect US troops from low flying German aircraft. The ground was frozen, covered with snow and the sky was filled with snow and heavy clouds making it very easy for the German armor to move about. The troops had lined up for a hot Christmas dinner consisting of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie. T/3 Leo J. Thoennes, of "B" Battery, recalls that he had just taken his mess kit of food and walked to the nearby gun section #4. Suddenly, before he could eat his dinner, what was thought to have been a P-47 (a FW-190) and a P-51, came over with their guns firing. The NCO in charge of the battery ordered his guns to return fire.

    Kennedy recalled that as the Mustang passed over the church, firing from the 555th batteries became continuous and heavy. Lt. Mitchell, some distance away, recollects seeing multiple tracer rounds that gave every appearance of being "a whole field of golf balls," so intense was the antiaircraft barrage.

    From their vantage point looking NE, Sgt. Charles Brown, PFC John Starzynbski and Lt Murray Grobman saw Preddy fall from the Mustang at about 200 feet, his parachute not deployed and Cripes A’Mighty now inverted disappearing behind a tree line where they heard her hit the ground. Cartee glanced over his shoulder to see the Mustang continue it's rotation and violently impact the ground. After things quited down a bit, Lt. Grobman took his jeep and drove over to see what he could find. Later on when he returned, he told Brown and Starzynski that he did not go the crash site but he found where Preddy's body was located, added that the pilot was identified as a Major and his chute wasn't deployed. Brown recalls within minutes of the crash, 2 Me-109s flew over line abreast on the same path as Preddy and no US AA guns fired.

    Sgt Kennedy and Cpl Dye went to the crash site of the Mustang noting that the largest portion remaining of the Mustang was the engine. Kennedy recalled seeing a piece of the fuselage on which swastikas had been painted.

    Lt. Cartee returned safely to the field at Y-29 and made an uneventful landing. "

    Regarding Bill Preddy's final flight, we have assembled the following clarifying information since the Preddy biography was completed;

    "Addendum to George Preddy – Top Mustang Ace
    Joe Noah & Samuel L. Sox, Jr.

    This revision is being issued because the authors of the Preddy book and video have learned new facts we did not have when we submitted the manuscript to Motorbooks International in 1990. All we knew about the demise of Bill Preddy and his CO, Captain Ray Reuter, was contained in the encounter reports of those flying with Bill and Ray the day they were reported missing, April 17, 1945. It was not until 1991 when the Czech Republic was once again liberated from the clutches of the Iron Curtain that a Czech citizen, Manuel Van Eyck, told us what happened on that fateful day in 1945. He wrote an article identifying the crash sites of both Mustangs near Ceske Budejovice, and Jan Smejkal as the one who pulled Bill from his Mustang after it crashed near Zaluzi.
    Here is what we know now. On April 17th Bill and his CO, Captain Reuter, gave chase to two Me 262 jets after strafing airfields at Klatovy and Eisendorf. Although the Me 262 is much faster than the Mustang by about 100 mph, on some occasions the Mustangs were successful in catching the short range Me-262s in their landing pattern. We suspect that is what Bill and Ray hoped for that day. However, apparently they did not catch the 262s ; their chase led them to Ceske Budejovice, about 75 miles south of Prague, where they decided to make one last strafing run before going home. Both were shot down by enemy ground fire. Reuter's aircraft exploded when hit. Bill's Mustang crash landed at a small village (Zaluzi) where he was rescued by a Czech citizen, Jan Smejkal. Jan took him about five kilometers in a horse-drawn cart to a German emergency treatment center where he was given first aid only. We were told by Jan Smejkal that Bill never regained consciousness. The German doctors refused to take Bill to the hospital in Ceske Budejovice. So Jan took him 10 more kilometers to the hospital where he died, probably on the 18th. He was buried on the 19th in a cemetery near the hospital. Later, his body was moved to the Lorraine American Cemetery near St. Avold, France and buried next to George.
    We have recently learned that a German paratrooper by the name of Hans Gerlach was in the hospital in Ceske Budejovice as a patient when Bill was brought in by Jan Smejkal. We first learned that from Hans’ son who found the Preddy Memorial Foundation web site. It was from information in the web site that young Hans deduced that the pilot whom his father had helped in the hospital was in fact Bill Preddy. The PMF, the Preddy family and the 339th Fighter Group have all expressed their sincere thanks for the compassion shown by Hans Gerlach.
    Bill is remembered along with his more famous brother, George, who set records in the ETO: top Mustang ace, leading active ace when killed, first ETO pilot to shoot down six enemy fighters in one mission. Bill's name appears on a bronze alumni plaque at NC State where he enrolled in September 1942, on a bronze alumni plaque at Greensboro (now Grimsley) High School, with his brother in exhibits in the Greensboro Historical Museum and in the terminal building at the Piedmont Triad International Airport. Bill is also remembered in the 8th Air Force Heritage Museum in Savannah in a photo on display in the Pilots case. He is remembered in the Czech Republic where he is considered a hero because he helped liberate them in 1945. Unfortunately, following the Communist coup of 1948, the liberation by the US Army was literally erased from all newspapers, school textbooks, and the minds of some Czech citizens. But not all; the Czechs have now built memorials to both Bill and his CO, Capt. Reuter since 1990. And they have established the Museum of the Air Battle Over Krusnohori where they have memorabilia of Americans from the 100th Bomb Group and the 339th Fighter Group, among others.
    Joe Noah and his son, Bob, visited the sites in 2001 where Bill and George Preddy went down, and they visited the Museum of the Air Battle. They also visited the grave site in Ceske Budejovice where Bill was initially buried, and at Lorraine American Military Cemetery where both brothers were finally interred. Arnaud Beinat, a Frenchman from Metz, adopted the grave sites and cares for them on ceremonial occasions for the Preddy Memorial Foundation. We continue to search for parts of George’s plane near Langerwehe, Germany, where George’s fatal crash took place on Christmas Day 1944."

    All the best, Sam Sox, Jr

  5. 5
    Bill Atkinson says:

    Maj. Preddy is reported to have saved the life of my uncle, Lt. Ben C. Isgrig, Jr. on June 12 1944 over occupied France. That day, Uncle Ben's B-24 Liberator, "Squat 'N Droppitt," was hit by enemy fire and caught on fire. Forced to bail out at 19000 feet with the rest of his crew, Uncle Ben dangled helplessly below his parachute headed toward likely capture by the Germans on the ground. As Uncle Ben later recorded in his war diary:

    "I began to look around and saw three fighter planes above me, and I immediately thought them to be German. The one nearest me turned his nose toward me, and started diving at me. I thought he was going to machine gun me and I prayed fervently to God to help me. I pulled my shroud lines to start my body swinging, which was all I could do to help myself. After a second the plane turned slightly to my left, and I recognized it to be an ME109, and the other to be P-51's.

    One of these circled lazily above me while the other followed the German plane down. The German cut to the left; passing within fifty yards of me, and began to climb. The Mustang was right on his tail; and I never wanted anything in my life a much as I wanted him to kill the German who had shot us down. I guess I was a little hysterical at this time; I screamed and cursed the German as he passed me, and waved and offered all my moral support to the American as he passed. The German didn't have a chance. Within ten seconds his ship began to fall apart and burn. The German bled out and floated down some three hundred yards from me as his chute opened."

    After being rescued by the French Resistance and hidden from the Germans, Uncle Ben was liberated when as the Allied Forces pushed the Germans back from the coast of France. Uncle Ben later found out that the P-51 pilot had been Maj. George Preddy.

  6. 6
    Joe Noah says:

    Re Andy Snell's comment: "CRIPES A MIGHTY #3 did make History for George. Art Snyder was the crew chief. Andy Snell/487fs." Actually, Art Snyder was Preddy's crew chief on the last Cripes A'Mighty in the 328th FS, not on the 3rd in the 487th. Lew Lunn was Preddy's crew chief on Cripes A'Mighty 3rd, and Joe McVay was the Assistant Crew Chief. Please view the marble plaque the PMF had made for the Mighty Eighth AF Museum which memorializes both crews.

  7. 7
    christophe vancoillie says:

    that its verry good story the best ace preddy….off ww2 .

  8. 8
    Susan says:

    Lucien Hubbard was not a ground crewman, he was a well known journalist, Hollywood scriptwriter and war correspondent.

  9. 9
    Daniel Marek says:

    Hello,

    Preddy´s brother died in hospitall in city of ?eské Bud?jovice in South of Bohemia.
    He died 18th of April 1945.
    The place when he was outlanding is about 5km from my house.

    Regards
    Daniel
    Czech Republic



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