George Preddy Info...

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American Aces in WTO...
Name /Kills /Unit /Plane
Francis "Gabby" Gabreski /28.0 /56FG /P-47
Robert S. Johnson /27.0 /56FG/ P-47
George Preddy /26.8/ 352FG/ P-51
John C. Meyer /24.0 /352FG/ P-51
Ray Wetmore /2.6 /359FG /P-51
David C. Schilling/ 22.5 / 56FG /P-47
Dominic Gentile /21.8 /4FG/ P-47
Fred J. Christensen /21.5 / 56FG /P-47
Walker M. 'Bud' Mahurin /20.8/ 56FG /P-47

In July 1943, the 352nd Fighter Group, "The Blue-Nosed Bastards of Bodney" set up shop at Bodney. George Preddy went on his first combat mission in the ETO in September, 1943 and scored his first victory on Dec. 1, a Bf-109. Three weeks later, he won a second, 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's wingman, Lt. Richard Grow, became separated and apparently was shot down--the only wingman Preddy ever lost.

Preddy knocked down one Me-210, broke up the attack, and then lured the remaining enemy aircraft away from the damaged B-24, earning for himself a Silver Star. The 352nd converted to P-51s in April 1944. Preddy got his fifth victory on May 13 and was on his way to becoming, a few months later, the leading active ace in the ETO. (Gabreski was a POW, and Bob Johnson had gone home.) Escorting bombers to Madgeburg on June 20, Preddy shot down an FW-190 and shared an Me-410 with Lt. James Woods. On June 21, the 352nd accompanied the 4th to Russia for the second of the shuttles. But 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. Like many pilots, Preddy enjoyed an excellent relationship with his ground crew, sharing his success with them, having them pose for PR pictures, etc.. Perhaps it was a reflection of this good relationship that his guns never suffered a malfunction during his combat career. Like most young pilots, he also had a weakness for women.

On July 18, the 352nd claimed 21 kills, four of them falling to George Preddy, whose eye was now well and truly tuned to the tricks of the enemy. Major Preddy was scheduled to lead the entire group on an Aug. 6 escort mission. The mission was scrubbed due to forecast bad weather, and--with a free day ahead--a big party was inevitable. Shortly after midnight, the mission was on again. At briefing, the group commander judged that Preddy was not in shape to lead, but Meyer assured him that George would be ready by takeoff time.

A few hours later, from his perch at 30,000 feet, Preddy spotted more than 30 Bf-109s coming in on the third box of B-17s. He led his flight into the midst of the Bf-109s, shooting down three in rapid succession.

At that point, four other P-51s joined the fight. Preddy shot down two more Bf-109s, then followed the formation down to 5,000 feet, where he found himself alone with the enemy. One of them broke to the left, followed by Preddy in his Cripes A' Mighty. After a hot duel, George shot down his sixth of the day. 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 unsought leave in the States. Preddy returned to the ETO in October 1944 as CO of the group's 328th Squadron. Leading the squadron on November 2, they ripped apart a gaggle of Bf-109s, downing no fewer than 25.

During the Battle of the Bulge in December, elements of the group were moved to fighter strip Y-29, Asche, Belgium. On Christmas Eve, Preddy indulged in a game of craps and scooped the pot to win $1000, which he intended to invest in war bonds. On Christmas Day, Preddy led 10 of his 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 an FW-190 on the deck and went after him at treetop height. As they roared over American ground troops, Preddy--at war's end the third-ranking American ace of the European war with 26.83 victories--was hit by friendly ground fire and crashed to his death.
Preddy pic....


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