Pat Little and Martha Fielis
AP Little and Martha Fielis at West Point

Augustine Patterson Little, Jr. (Pat) was born on 17 November 1914 in Louisville, Ga. to Augustine Patterson Little (“Gus”) and Laura Landrum Lee (“Miss Laura”). He was the second of three children and the only boy. He was an excellent student and graduated from high school a year early (at the age of 14). His ambition was to attend Georgia Tech for an engineering degree, but family finances made that impossible. To ensure that his younger sister could also attend college, he sought a free education at West Point. Family legend says he memorized the eye chart in order to pass the physical.

Pat attended the University of Georgia for two years before receiving an invitation to the United States Military Academy at West Point. It was at UGA that he met his future bride, Martha Helen Fielis, of Jackson Heights, NY. They continued their relationship during weekends at West Point, at dances and on Flirtation Walk.

Pat Little in MTO
Pat Little in the MTO

Pat had a typically difficult but very successful career at West Point. His many letters home focus on lack of money and long hours spent studying. In one letter he explains why he spent more than his usual 30 cents per week that month, and asks his father to send a dollar. He also describes some West Point requirements that might surprise us in the 21st century: proficiency in the Fox Trot, Waltz and One-Step. He graduated in 1937, eighth in his class, and was married the next day, 13 June 1937, to Martha Fielis in the West Point Cadet Chapel.

He was first posted to Fort Benning, GA and then to Fort Belvoir, VA. He then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned his Masters Degree in Civil Engineering. In December 1941 he was briefly posted to McChord Field, WA but was called to Savannah, GA immediately after Pearl Harbor to help form the 8th Air Force.

Pat Little in Normandy
Col Pat Little in Normandy

Col Little’s first command was the 814th Engineer Aviation Battalion and he lead them during the Africa Campaign, through the Invasion of Sicily, and then into Italy. During the Africa Campaign, he was awarded the Soldier’s Medal and the Legion of Merit.

He was then called to England to command the 922nd Engineer Aviation Regiment and led them into Europe on D-Day. He landed on D+1 and one of his battalions built the first evacuation airfield following the landings. His unit remained at the forefront of the Allies’ invasion of Europe.

Pat Little Croix de Guerre citation
Pat Little’s Croix de Guerre citation

It was in late August 1944 that Col Little’s regiment was inspecting Le Bourget Airfield outside Paris. Portions of the airfield were still under German control and Col Little’s command car came under fire. His driver was wounded and while Col Little and his XO, Lt Col Gil Hall, attempted to pull Corporal Farr to safety, both Col Little and Lt Col Hall were hit. Lt Col Hall died immediately and Col Little died two days later from his wounds.

Col Little was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Croix de Guerre with Palm.