Brigadier General, United States Air Force
GENERAL ATTILIO PEDROLI
Retired July 1, 1983. Died January 30, 2010.
Brigadier General Attilio Pedroli was commander of the Defense General Supply Center, Defense Logistics Agency, Richmond, Virginia.
General Pedroli was born in 1931, in Milford, Massachusetts. He graduated from Milford High School in 1948 and attended Northeastern University in Boston. He graduated from Squadron Officer School in 1960 and Air Command and Staff College in 1967. Both schools are located at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1951 and after completing basic training, basic electronics school and radar maintenance school he was assigned to the Air Defense Command Squadron at Williamson Johnson Municipal Airport, Duluth, Minnesota. General Pedroli entered the aviation cadet program in June 1952 and was awarded his observer wings and commission in 1953.
His initial flying assignment was at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, for combat training in B-29s. His first operational assignment was as a B-29 radar navigator with the 44th Bombardment Squadron at Smoky Hill Air Force Base, Salina, Kansas. In September 1954 he entered advanced specialized navigator training at Mather Air Force Base, California, and in April 1955 he joined the 11th Bombardment Wing at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, as a B-36 navigator. Six months later he transferred to the 17th Bombardment Wing at Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico, again as a B-36 crewmember.
The General returned to Mather Air Force Base in September 1958 for specialized B-52 radar navigator training, then proceeded to Castle Air Force Base, California, for B-52 combat crew training. Joining the 11th Bombardment Wing at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, in February 1959, he served as a radar navigator on a B-52 crew until April 1960 when he attended Squadron Officer School en route to the 17th Bombardment Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He become chief of the wing's Target Intelligence Branch in February 1965. Later he was named the wing's armaments and electronics maintenance supervisor, serving in that capacity until September 1966 when he entered the Air Command and Staff College.
In the summer of 1967 General Pedroli attended EB-66 crew training at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, in preparation for combat duty in Southeast Asia. He served from November 1967 to November 1968 with the 41st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. Assigned as staff navigator he flew 119 combat missions in EB-66 "Pathfinder" operations.
Upon his return to the United States, General Pedroli was assigned to Mather Air Force Base, serving successively as a navigation instructor, squadron flight commander, base executive officer and commander of the 3538th Navigator Training Squadron.
Assigned to Germany in July 1971, he became commander of the 7005th Air Base Squadron at Stuttgart Airfield, providing airlift support for Headquarters U.S. European Command. In January 1973 he was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein Air Base as a radar systems staff officer. In May 1973 he became deputy commander of the 86th Combat Support Group at Ramstein and assumed command of the group in October 1974.
He returned to Mather Air Force Base in August 1975 as deputy commander for operations, 323rd Flying Training Wing. He became the wing's vice commander in October 1975, and wing commander in September 1976. General Pedroli took command of the Defense Industrial Supply Center at Philadelphia in July 1979 and assumed his present command in June 1981.
The general is a master navigator with more than 6,000 flying hours. Among his military decorations and awards are the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart and Combat Readiness Medal.
He was promoted to the grade of Brigadier General
July 1, 1979, with date of rank June 29, 1979.
On January 14, 1968, Air Force Major Attilio Pedroli disappeared in a monsoon 79 miles southwest of Hanoi, near the North Vietnam-Laos border, after a MiG-21 fighter shot down the EB-66 "Pathfinder" on which he was navigator.
Badly injuring his shoulder as he bailed out, he parachuted into the top of a bamboo tree. After hanging there nursing an injured right arm, unable to see in the dark and fog, he took hours to shimmy down the tree, slicing himself on sharp bamboo as he went.
North Vietnamese villagers had an idea where he was. At one point, Major Pedroli sat above a trail along which villagers 50 meters away were firing guns to flush him out of the jungle.
"It was a horrific rescue mission," said a son, Peter Pedroli of El Dorado Hills, California. "The first rescue plane crashed."
Two days later, Major Pedroli was the last of three crew members helicoptered out. The remaining four became prisoners of war.
After recuperating, he went on to complete a total of 119 combat missions during his Vietnam War tour -- from November 1967 to November 1968 -- as a member of the 41st Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron, operating out of Thailand.
During a career spanning 32 years, he went from enlisted man taking electronics and radar training to a master navigator with more than 6,000 flying hours to Brigadier General.
He earned the Silver and Bronze stars, Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, among many awards.
General Pedroli, who retired in 1983 as commander of the Defense General Supply Center, now the Defense Supply Center Richmond, died of cancer January 30, 2010, at McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The Chesterfield County resident was 79.
A graveside service will be held March 17, 2010, at 9 a.m. in the Fort Myer Chapel, with burial in Arlington National Cemetery.
The Milford, Massachusetts, native enlisted in the Air Force in 1951, after a stint at Northeastern University in Boston. He trained as a navigator on B-29s, B-36s and B-52s.
He was chief of the 17th Bombardment Wing's Target Intelligence Branch at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base before undergoing crew training for Vietnam in the summer of 1967.
After leaving Vietnam, he served stateside and in Germany at Stuttgart Airfield and Ramstein Air Force Base before commanding the Defense Industrial Supply Center in Philadelphia and coming to Richmond in 1981.
In retirement, he worked as president of Figgie Services for Figgie International Inc.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife, Georga Crystal Pedroli; two more sons, David Pedroli of Sacramento, California, and Carl C. Pedroli of Richmond; a stepson, Richard Sherwood of Fairfax; two daughters, Karen Wibbenhorst of Pleasanton, California, and Pamela Paris of Bel Air, Maryland; a sister, Judith Micelotta of Milford, Massachusetts; and five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Posted: 7 February 2010 Updated: 17 February 2010