Robert E. Pettis, Sr., The last man to bomb Imperial Japan has taken flight to be with the LORD. Bob flying in the B-29 known as “the Uninvited” was the tail gunner in the last plane in the last flight to bomb mainland Japan. He left this world on September 13, 2020 in the early morning surrounded by his family. Bob as he was known was born December 5, 1924 to the late Earl and Goldie (Davis) Pettis. He graduated from West Springfield High School in 1941. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1944 and after flying in B-17 and B-24’s was assigned to the 315th Bomb Wing of the 20th Airforce. While in the service he was awarded the American Theater Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon with two Bronze Stars, Good Conduct Medal Air Medal and Victory Medal WWII.
After being discharged in 1946 he returned to the Springfield area where he began work with the Norfolk and Western Railroad. He then began to drive semi- tractor trailers over the road for many years. While in his fifties he changed jobs and worked for Penn Dot until his retirement.
He and his wife Betty (known to Bob as Termite), enjoyed camping with a travel trailer and also spending winters in various parts of Florida. They also spent many years in the Andover area spending their summers in Holiday Campground.
Bob was a member of the Federated Church in East Springfield where he and friends such as Bob Powell, Bill Pomeroy, Jack Bort, Perry Duncan and Dale Peters began the bus ministry. Bob would often drive the church coach when the teen choir went on tours across the country. Many of those teens drew closer to the LORD through Bob’s unique driving skills. (Fear works wonders).
Bob was also known for telling stories, some of them were even true. He also loved to play cards. He especially loved Euckre, rummy, and hand and foot. He cheated often.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death his by his brother and sister in-law Russel and Betty Pettis.
Bob is survived by his wife of 71 years, Betty (Adams), children Fay Trimble (William), Robert Jr. (Travis Jean), Diana Prindle (K.J. Santrum), Jack (Tiffany), Mark (Brittney), Rick Godfrey (Bonnie) who was like his own son, and Phillip Whipple who lived with the family for several years.
He is further survived by Uncle Frank and Aunt Betty Scalise as well as Aunt Nancy Adams. There is a mob of offspring, 12 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren. There are also many nieces and nephews scattered across the country. A special note to nieces Jan Bernini, Susie Lawrence, and Linda Smith who often came to visit to lift Bob and Betty’s spirits. Bob and Betty have many friends from their many travels, a special shout out to friends John and Esther McMillen.
Visitation, supervised by the Edder Funeral Home, will be at the Federated Church in East Springfield on Thursday September 17 from 3:00 to 6:30 pm with service led by Pastor Dr. Ed Huntley following. A private burial will be held at East Springfield Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Springfield Volunteer Fire Department, 11959 Main Street, East Springfield, PA 16411, where he was a founding member.
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