Wendell O. Pruitt - Military Career

Military Career

Pruitt, already a licensed pilot, enlisted in the Army Air Corps Cadet Flying Program in Tuskegee, Alabama, eventually graduating and being commissioned as a second lieutenant on December 11, 1942.

After graduating from flight school at Tuskegee, Pruitt was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group, then stationed in Michigan. The 332nd was transferred to the Mediterranean theater in late 1943 where Pruitt flew the P-47 Thunderbolt.

In June 1944, Pruitt and his occasional wingman, 1st Lt. Gwynne Walker Peirson, landed direct hits on an enemy destroyer that sank at Trieste harbor in northern Italy. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for this action. Thereafter, the 332nd flew the P-51 Mustang as their primary fighter aircraft.

Pruitt teamed with Lee Archer to form the famed "Gruesome Twosome", the most successful pair of Tuskegee pilots in terms of air victories. The "Gruesome Twosome" are featured in a History Channel show entitled Dogfights: Tuskegee Airmen. Pruitt flew seventy combat missions, was credited with 3 enemy kills, and reached the rank of captain.

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