Army Air Corps
Pilot's duties - Carry the responsibility of maintaining and completing all orders by command, to insure that his aircraft and crew meet the standards set by the United States Army Air Corps.
Robert “Bob” Perritt
Married: Sept. 15, 1945 to Nancy (Peasley) Perritt
Children: Richard Warren and Susan Elizabeth Gagosian
Grandchildren: Ian Perritt, Marcia Perritt Travis Gagosian and Alex Gagosian
Second Marriage - Nov. 3, 1973 to Lois M. (King) Perritt
Stepchildren: Marcia King, Karen Ransom and Nancy Rose
Step-grandchildren: Derrick Ransom, Dustin Ransom, Drew Ransom and Hannah Nichols.
The B-24 Liberator American heavy bomber was capable of carrying a 8,000-pound load of high explosive and incendiary ordinance. It was designed by the Consolidated Aircraft Co. of San Diego, Calif. The aircraft was so valuable that in 1943 with the help of the Ford Motor Co. our country produced 650 planes per month and with over 18,000 planes made throughout the war the production came out to a plane every hour. It was so much in demand that it carried the title of the most aircraft produced during the war. It carried the nickname the flying box car.
Medals & Awards - European/Africa/Middle East Medal/ 9 Battle Stars; U.S. Air Medal, 3 Oak Leaves; Presidential Unit Citation/ 1 Silver Star.
Confirmed bombing runs: Munich, Vienna, Bratislava, Zagreb, Ploestic, Klagenfort, Udins, Sofia, and Arles.
Areas of service: Italy, Gibraltar, Algeria, Cape Bon, Cataria Sicily, Straits of Messina Stromboli and the Isle of Capri.
Robert Perritt was born in Chicago, Ill., on May 12, 1922. He is the son of Charles Frederick and Grace (Edwards) Perritt. The family lived in a one family home on Lakewood Avenue in Chicago's mid northside. His father was an insurance broker who at the time sold life insurance policies and basically was in the birth stages of selling group life insurance policies.
Growing up in Chicago's mid northside was no different from growing up in most large cities. Perritt recalls the neighborhood being small with daily games of baseball in the summer and touch football in the fall. Perritt did list his favorite sport and pastime as being roller skating and mainly roller skating racing. The Chicago streets were at his time the playgrounds as we would call them today.
School started at St. Ita's Catholic School. He attended his first eight years before advancing to St. George's High School in Evanston, Ill. In high school, he played lightweight football.
His first job he explained his title being a "go for." He claims he went for this and he went for that. The job was at a garage owned by two brothers. When asked how much he made, he claimed that the way the system worked back then was after the week was over the brothers took out some of the garage then some for each one of them and whatever seemed fair was given to Perritt. Later on in life he advanced to his new job as a soda jerk.
Perritt's plans now in life were to attend college but through a friend he landed a job because of his skills as a supervisor in a radio manufacturing company. He claims he always had a knack for electronics. The company mainly produced radios for military tanks. Since the paychecks in 1939 and 1940 were so good, he put college on hold. Perritt decided to stay with the Rauland Radio Company.
In April of 1942 he decided to enlist in the Army Air Corps. He was afraid that he would be drafted in the army as a foot soldier, so he rushed downtown and took the pre-pilot enlistment test. He passed and had to wait to be accepted in the aviation division. He was on the right route in becoming an Army Air Corp pilot.
He waited while months passed. Finally in September, while on vacation he received a call to report to his pre-flight training in Nashville, Tenn. Training lasted six weeks and mostly consisted of marching and military regulations. His next assignment took him first to primary school in Albany, Ga. where he had to fly solo for eight hours. Second, he participated in basic flight in River Tri-County. Third, he advanced to flight school in northeast Georgia.
His first flight was in the Pt 17 (p stands for pilot, t stands for trainer, and the 17th version.)
After his first eight hours, he flew solo. If a cadet didn't pass as a pilot he then would become a navigator or an engineer.
At the end of his training Perritt became commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the Army Air Corp. He had those valuable air wings finally pinned on him in April.
His next assignment was to Mountain Home, Idaho. The plane assigned to him was the brand new B-24 flying, landing and more flying. The B-24 was such a great plane and it only needed a 5,000 ft. runway. He was checked out in the B-17 and the B-24 Liberator.
The pilot of the B-24 had a lot of responsibility. The crew consisted of the pilot; a co-pilot; navigator; engineer; bombardier; waist gunner; radio communication man; tail gunner; and a ball turret gunner.
Perritt was then assigned to the 15th AF HQ Italy to begin his duties as a pilot. When reporting the roster it showed 250 men and not enough airplanes. Because of the lack of aircraft he was given TAD (temporarily assigned duty) to help route convoys. Finally the planes arrived and he began his outstanding career.
This pilot's story can fill an entire book. To list his every duty station and bombing run would take three full pages.
His love for boating had brought him and his wife to the Westfield area. Perritt was active in all military clubs and spends most of his time at the Dart airport in the Mayville area. On the weekends he give tours in the airport museum.
There are not many B-24 Liberator pilots left to tell the story. The real story, not the Hollywood version. Stop in at this airport and ask for Robert Perritt.
Robert Perritt the pilot, Robert Perritt the B-24 Liberator pilot. He will tell you about the war, places he's seen and people he has met. He will also tell you about the planes and the missions. He was there. He did it. Robert Perritt did his duty and that is why he is our Hero of the Week.
Submitted by John Fedyszyn Fredonia