He died in his attacking PBY aircraft at Jolo Harbor, Philippines, December 27, 1941, as he remained bravely at his post in the burning, gasoline-flooded radio compartment. United States Ship Pettit (Delaware-253) was named in his honor. The ship was laid down February 6, 1943 by the Brown Shipbuilding Company, Houston, Texas.
Launched April 28, 1943.
Sponsored by Mistress Robert Lee Pettit. And commissioned September 23, 1943, Lieutenant
Commander William B. Ellis, United States Coast Guard, in command.