World War II Honor Roll

Thomas Martin Pettit

Ensign, U.S. Navy


Bombing Squadron 116

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died:  August 9, 1944
Buried at: Locustwood Cemetery
                  Route 70 & Cooper Landing Road
                  Cherry Hill NJ
Awards: Purple Heart

ENSIGN THOMAS MARTIN PETTIT was born on May 12, 1921, the son of Hudson J. and Delia Graves Pettit. His early years were spent in Moorestown NJ, where his family lived at 320 Washington Street. At the time of the 1930 census, Hudson Petit was working as a carpenter, and brother-in-law Martin Graves, also a carpenter lived with the family, which also included a younger daughter, Jane Pettit. 

Thomas Pettit was a graduate of Moorestown High School, where he had played football. He had married and settled in Pennsauken NJ before enlisting in the Navy in June of 1942. He went overseas as a co-pilot of a Navy PB4Y-1 bomber with Bombing Squadron 116 (VB-116). The PB4Y-1 was the Navy version of the four-engine B-24 bomber.

VPB-116 began ECM operations with PB4Y-1s out of Eniwetok Atoll in March of 1944. They flew sorties against Japanese radar installations on Truk, and made radar plots at 1000-, 1000- and 500-foot altitudes. These plots helped airstrikes pick approach directions which would minimize alert time for the enemy. Ensign Pettit was killed when his plane crashed on take-off from Eniwetok on August 9, 1944. 

Thomas Pettit is memorialized on the Delaware Township War Memorial. Delaware Township changed its name to Cherry Hill in 1961. He was survived by his wife, Marion Drummond Pettit, of 2259 Hollinshed Avenue, Pennsauken NJ. He was also survived by his parents, then of Marlton NJ. His death was reported in the September 20, 1944 edition of the Camden Courier-Post. 

Thomas Pettit was brought home to New Jersey after the war. He was buried at Locustwood Cemetery in Cherry Hill NJ, where today he rests next to his parents. 

Pettit Road, Pettit Lane, and Pettit Court in Pennsauken NJ are all named after him. 

09 AUG 44 PB4Y-1 PB4Y-1 LOCATION: (Eniwetok) STRIKE: Yes BUNO: 38766 CAUSE: Reconnaissance flight. Pilot aborted take-off due to darkness, load and rolling runway and cut throttles. Pilot thought he was still on the runway mat, but was actually airborne. With a thirty degree cross-wind plane drifted to left and into and crashed into parked carrier planes adjacent to the runway. Plane hit first row of parked airplanes, caring away wing tips off the folded wings, and canopies and crashing into parking area fifty-yards past end of runway. The plane burned, with fire spreading to other parked aircraft, low order detonation of 9 x 500lbs bombs was instrumental in extending sphere of damage to include the loss or damage of 106 aircraft. Crew: Pilot Lt Romone C. Anderson A-V(N) USNR/Killed, Ens T. M. Pettit A-V(N) USNR/Killed, Ens O. B. Tully A-V(N) USNR/(died of injuries Aug 15th, 1944), AMM1c L. Johnson USN/Seriously inj, Sea1c H. A. Heper USNR/Killed, ARM1c J. W. Chalmers USNR/Killed, ARM3c A. F. Burkhartemeyer USNR/Seriously inj, AOM2c J. D. Rothwell USNR/Killed, Sea1c A. A. Van Winkle USNR/Killed, Sea1c E. Petri USNR/Killed, and AOM3c G. A. Ehinger USNR/Killed.