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Felix Little

 

Date and Place of Birth: June 26, 1916 Catawba, NC
Date and Place of Death:    December 18, 1944 Pici Field, Fortaleza, Brazil
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Pitcher
Rank: Lieutenant
Military Unit: Patrol Bombing Squadron VPB-134 US Navy
Area Served: South America

Felix A. Little, the son of Charles and Alice, was from Catawba, North Carolina, and attended Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, where he played basketball and baseball for four years. Little was a pitcher and in his freshman year (1936), he was 1–1 in five appearances for the Mountain Bears with a 2.03 ERA. The following year he was 2–5 and struck out 50 in 50 innings. Little was the mainstay of the pitching staff in 1938, winning four games against three losses for a 1.80 ERA. In his senior year, Little served as varsity baseball captain. He hurled a 15–0 two-hitter against Elon College on April 19, 1939, and helped the Mountain Bears to the North State Conference title.

In April 1939, the Hickory Rebels, formerly of the independent Carolina League, and now an entry in the newly formed Class D Tar Heel League, were looking for players. Little, together with pitcher/outfielder Ed Tuttle and catcher Clyde McSwain, had successful tryouts, and the right-hander made a handful of appearances as a relief pitcher.

In 1940, he joined the Newton-Conover Twins of the same league and was 4–7 in 16 appearances with a 5.27 ERA. His career as a professional baseball player ended after the 1940 season, and Little accepted a position as a teacher and athletic coach at Balls Creek High School in Newton, North Carolina.

Little entered military service with the Navy in 1941, and graduated as a bomber pilot at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida. Lieutenant Little served with Patrol Bombing Squadron VPB-134 flying Lockheed PV-1 Ventura twin-engine bombers, and in January 1944, the squadron relocated to Brazil, South America. The northern coast of Brazil provided ideal locations to cover the vital South Atlantic shipping routes and the squadron was initially stationed at Ibura Field in Recife, before moving to Pici Field at Fortaleza in April 1944.

On December 18, 1944, Little was among nine crew and passengers aboard a PV-1 being flown by Lieutenant Junior Grade Charles G. Wolfe. As the plane left the runway at Pici Field, the port engine exploded and the airplane crashed, killing all on board.

The crash resulted in a general squadron stand down while all planes were inspected. Several were found to have major deficiencies requiring several months to make them airworthy.

Little’s brother Philip, a private with the 1st Armored Division in North Africa, had lost his life in action two years earlier. Felix Little’s body was returned to the United States in April 1948, and now rests at the Catawba United Methodist Church Cemetery.

Year

Team

League

Class

G

IP

ER

BB

SO

W

L

ERA

1939 Hickory
Tar Heel D - - - - - - - -
1940 Newton-Conover Tar Heel D 16 99 58 48 39 4 7 5.27

 

Lockheed PV-1 Ventura

A Lockheed PV-1 Ventura

Date Added February 1, 2012 Updated June 15, 2014

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