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Captain John "Rabbit" Pietz Jr.

Captain John "Rabbit" Pietz Jr.

Captain John "Rabbit" Pietz Jr.Born in Brooklyn New York on 4 June 1921, John "Rabbit" Pietz, Jr., graduated from Army Air Forces pilot training on 1 October 1943. Following fighter transition, in February 1944 he was sent to New Guinea and assigned to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group. On 24 March the 475th moved from Dobodura to Nadzab. They continued to Hollandia in May and to Biak in July. Operating the new "J" model P-38s with their extended range, the group flew escort missions and fighter sweeps to the southern Philippines, Celebes, Halmahera and Borneo.

Moving to Leyte in late October, the 475th participated in the Allied campaign to recover the Philippines. On 24 November, accompanying a 431st fighter sweep out of Dulag, Lieutenant Pietz downed two Oscars and a Kate.

Escorting B-24's over Clark Field on Christmas Day, the 431st was met by 70 to 80 Japanese fighters. In a 50 minute air battle, the squadron destroyed 18 enemy aircraft, two of which were credited to Pietz.

With the fall of Clark Field, on 25 February the 475th moved to the former Japanese base. March was the last month of substantial air combat for the group, since Japanese resistance was tapering off drastically. The 28th was the group's most eventful day, however. Escorting B-25s on an anti-shipping strike off French Indochina, the group engaged three formations of Japanese fighters, Eleven Japanese fell during the battle, with seven credited to the 431st. Pietz downed one Tojo for his final victory of the war.

Captain John "Rabbit" Pietz Jr.Remaining in the service following the war Pietz retired from the Air Force as a colonel in January 1966. Still an athlete at age 64, he was killed when his bicycle was hit by a car in Kailua,, Hawaii in July 1985 as he was training for the Ironman.

Tally Record:
6 Confirmed

Decorations:
Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters

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