Retired Feb. 28, 1975.
Major General Robert Lindsay Petit is Commander of Sheppard Technical Training Center, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. The Center provides technical and health care sciences training for officers, airmen and civilian employees of the U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Department of Defense, and foreign nationals.
General Petit was born in 1918, in Oxnard, Calif., and graduated from the University of Redlands, Redlands, Calif., with a bachelor of arts degree in 1939. He entered military service in early 1941 as an aviation cadet and received his pilot wings and commission as second lieutenant in November 1941.
During World War II, in January 1942, he went to the Southwest Pacific area as a member of the 70th Pursuit Squadron and was stationed as a fighter pilot in the Fiji Islands and Guadalcanal. He returned to the United States in June 1943 and three months later departed for Burma with the 1st Air Commandos to support General Wingate's jungle operations in that area. In Burma he was squadron operations officer and later squadron commander. He completed 151 combat missions with a total of 374 flying hours in P-38, P-39 and P-51 aircraft.
Upon his return to the United States in June 1944, he was assigned to the 1st Fighter Group, the first jet group in the Army Air Forces which was equipped with the P-80 aircraft. While assigned to the 1st Fighter Group, he was Commander of the 94th and then the 71st Fighter Squadron. The 94th Squadron, also known as the "Hat in the Ring" squadron, won fame in World War I when it was commanded by Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. In 1947 he won the Thompson Trophy Race at the Cleveland National Air Races while flying the F-80 aircraft.
In June 1949 General Petit was assigned to the Logistic Plans Division of the Air Defense Command at Mitchel Air Force Base., N.Y., and later served at Ent Air Force Base, Colo., as Assistant Deputy for Materiel, ADC. He became Deputy Commander of the 33d Fighter Group at Wold-Chamberlin International Airport, Minneapolis, Minn., in May 1951.
General Petit was assigned to the American Military Mission in Turkey as Director of Operations from January 1952 until June 1954. He returned to the United States and served as Deputy Executive Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force from June 1954 to August 1958, He next attended the Air War College and graduated in July 1959. His next assignment was as Director of Operations, 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, S.C., and he later assumed the position of Deputy Commander of the Wing.
He was transferred to England in July 1961 as Deputy Commander of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing at Royal Air Force Station Lakenheath, and became Commander in 1962. He was appointed Deputy Commander of the Third Air Force in England in June 1964.
In February 1965 General Petit was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the position of Deputy Director of Operational Requirements for Weapons Effect Testing, Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development. In July 1966 he became Deputy Director for Forces, Directorate of Operations, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations.
In June 1968 he went to Southeast Asia and was assigned as Chief of Staff, Seventh Air Force, at Tan Son Nhut Airfield, Republic of Vietnam, In June 1969 he assumed duties as Deputy Commander Seventh Air Force/Thirteenth Air Force with headquarters at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. He became Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters Pacific Air Force, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, in March 1970. He became Commander of Sheppard Technical Training Center in March 1972.
General Petit is a command pilot. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, the British Distinguished Flying Cross, Republic of Korea Order of Military Merit, and Republic of Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Order, First Class.
He was promoted to the temporary grade of major general effective Jan. 24, 1969, with date of rank Oct. 20, 1964.