His brother Marty, owner of Marty Pettit photography, and his sister Michelle, owner of the Village Frame Shop on West Main Street, have a dozen stories they recall about their big brother’s bigger than life personality. Michelle talked about the way he sized up the boys who asked her for dates in high school, offering his opinion and approval – or disapproval.
“That was Mack”, she said. Marty recalled handling the stick shift in Mack’s Mercury Montego. “We’d go flying down the road, Mack on the steering wheel and gas and me on the gears. He loved to go fast.” Marty finished with the same phrase as his sister, “That was Mack.” If it went fast or pushed the edge, chances were Mack was going to do it. That was just what he did. That was Mack.
Mack Pettit loved to fly in fast cars, but even more he loved to fly in helicopters. On Saturday, April 10, 1971, Warrant Officer Mack Pettit was in command of a UH-1 Huey Medevac helicopter. His mission that day was to shuttle patients back and forth between his air base in Chu Lai, South Vietnam to Da Nang. After two such trips, Mack and his crew left Da Nang and headed back to Chu Lai. They never made it.
The next night, Easter Sunday 1971, Mack’s parents Rudolph and Rebecca Pettit sat in their living room watching the evening news. They had not yet been notified of what had happened when the news anchor reported that a helicopter pilot had lost his life in Vietnam. The news anchor didn’t give a name, but something deep down in Rudolph’s heart sank. All he could say was, “That was Mack.” The next day his feelings were confirmed when a military messenger showed up at his workplace.
Click here to read the rest of Mack Pettit’s story at www.40DaysofHonor.com.