Major General Petit was born in July 1918 in Oxnard, CA and graduated from the University of Redlands in 1939 with a BA degree. 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 WWII 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 US in 1943 and departed for Burma with the 1st Air Commandos to support Gen Wingate's jungle operations. In Burma he served as 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 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. He served as Commander of the 94th and then the 71st Fighter Squadron. In June 1949 Gen Petit was assigned to the Logistics Plans Division of the Air Defense Command at Mitchel AFB, NY and later served at Ent AFB in CO. He became Deputy commander of the 33rd Fighter Group at Wold-Chamberlin International Airport, MN in 1951. After an assignment to the American Military Mission in Turkey he returned to the US and served as Deputy
Executive Assistant to the Secretary
of the Air Force from 1954-1958. He graduated from the Air War College in 1959. He was then assigned as Director of Operations for the 354th TFW at Myrtle Beach AFB and later assumed the position of Deputy Commander of the Wing.
He transferred to England in 1961 as Deputy Commander of the 48th TFW at RAF
Station Lakenheath and became Commander in 1962. He was appointed Deputy
Commander of the Third Air Force in England in June 1964. In 1969 he was assigned Chief of Staff, Seventh Air Force at Tan Son Nhut Airfield, Vietnam. He assumed duties as Deputy Commander Seventh Air Force/Thirteenth Air Force at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand. He became Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters Pacific Air Force, Hickam AFB, HI in 1970. In 1972 he became Commander of Sheppard Technical Training Center.
MGen Petit is a command pilot. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with oak leaf, British Distinguished Flying Cross, Republic of Korea Order of Military Merit, and Republic of Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Order, First Class.
MGen Petit retired February 1975.