north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Greensboro native George E. Preddy Jr. was the leading active ace in the European theater of operations at the time of his death during World War II. Preddy downed more enemy aircraft in the P-51 Mustang than any other fighter pilot in the war. Preddy first flew solo in 1938. He tried to become a naval pilot but was rejected because of his small stature, high blood pressure, and spinal curvature. Three times the Navy rejected him. The Army Air Corps accepted Preddy, placing him on a waiting list for a cadet class. Preddy in 1940 joined the National Guard. In April 1941 he received orders for flight training. He received his wings on December 12, 1941.

     Attached to a squadron in Australia, Preddy saw combat but did not shoot down any planes. In July 1942 Preddy was involved in a midair collision during training that resulted in a pilot’s death. Following a three-month recovery, Preddy went back to the United States and eventually was assigned to the 34th (later the 487th) squadron. In July 1943 the squadron was sent to Great Britain. Preddy shot down his first plane in December 1943. He was promoted to major in March 1944. In April Preddy’s squadron received the P-51 Mustang, and he became the 487th’s temporary commander. On August 6, 1944, Preddy downed six planes. He received the nation’s second highest award, the Distinguished Service Cross. Preddy left the European theater for thirty days leave. He received a big welcome back in Greensboro.

     Preddy returned to Europe in October 1944 and became the commander of the 328th squadron. On December 25, 1944, Preddy was shot down by friendly fire as he and two other pilots chased a German plane over an area defended by the American 12th Anti-Aircraft Group. He was buried at an American military cemetery in France. Preddy’s younger brother William, also a fighter pilot, lost his life in April 1945. He was later buried beside his brother.

Joe Noah and Samuel L. Sox Jr., George Preddy: Top Mustang Ace (1991)
Charles A. Jones, “The Tar Heel Ace,” The State (December 1994)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 138-139—sketch by Samuel L. Sox Jr.
Greensboro Record, May 28, 1979 and September 16, 1990

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north carolina highway historical marker program

Lt George Preddy standing beside his P-40 named " Tarheel" in 1942, Darwin, Australia. (Photo courtesy of Preddy Memorial Foundation via Sam Sox, Jr.)

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources