Retired Nov. 1, 1976. Died Aug. 9, 1977.
Brigadier General John Emmett Pitts Jr., is director of the International Staff, Inter-American Defense Board, Washington, D.C.
General Pitts was born in 1924, in Auburn, Ala., and graduated from Lee County High School in 1942. He enrolled in The Citadel, was called to active duty as an enlisted man in the U.S. Army in April 1943, and was discharged two months later to accept an appointment as a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y. He received his pilot wings and graduated from the academy with a bachelor of science degree and a commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps in June 1946.
He then received various operational assignments in Texas, Guam, the Canal Zone, and South Carolina, where he flew P-47, A-26, and F-84 aircraft. During the Korean War in July 1951, General Pitts was assigned to the 136th Tactical Fighter Group in Korea. During the next seven months, he accumulated 200 hours of combat time while flying 100 missions in the F-84, and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with oak leaf cluster.
In March 1952, General Pitts returned to the United States and was assigned to the F-84 equipped 31st Strategic Fighter Wing at Turner Air Force Base, Ga. He served as a flight commander during the first mass flight, Fox Peter One, of tactical fighter jets across the Pacific in June 1952. From February 1953 to March 1954, he served as an Air Force exchange officer with the U.S. Marine Corps at El Toro Air Station, Calif. There he flew a variety of marine fighters and became carrier qualified in both propeller and jet aircraft.
General Pitts was reassigned to the 31st Strategic Fighter Wing at Turner Air Force Base, in March 1954, as an operations staff officer. When the wing was transferred to the Tactical Air Command, he became commander of the 308th Strategic Fighter Squadron which was equipped with F-84 and later F-100 aircraft.
In September 1957, General Pitts was assigned as chief, Fighter Missile Test Branch, Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., where he flew F-100s, F-102s, and F-104s, and participated in "Blue Suit" test programs pertaining to development and employment of air-to-air missiles. He entered the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va. in August 1960.
General Pitts was assigned to the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, in March 1961, as commander of the F-100-equipped 494th Tactical Fighter Squadron. In July 1964 he became an operations staff officer in the Tactical Division, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. He entered the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa., in August 1966. After graduation from the college, he attended F-100 refresher training at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
In October 1.967 General Pitts was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam where he served as Air Force director of the Third Corps Direct Air Support Center at Bien Hoa Air Base. While there he was credited with more than 200 combat flying hours, primarily in the 0-1 Bird Dog. He returned to the United States and was assigned as deputy commandant of cadets for military instruction at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., in October 1968. While at the academy, he earned his parachutist rating in July 1969.
General Pitts went to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in March 1971 and was assigned to the Air Force Officer Training School as deputy commander, and later was commander. He became vice commander of the Lackland Military Training Center in April 1972.
General Pitts was appointed director of the International Staff, Inter-American Defense Board, Washington, D.C., in July 1974.
His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster; Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster; Combat Readiness Medal; and from the Republic of Vietnam the Air Force Distinguished Service Order, Second Class; Gallantry Cross with gold star; and the Air Force Service Medal.
He was promoted to the grade of brigadier general effective April 2, 1973, with date of rank March 28, 1973.