Willis (Will) Stetson Fitch, 82, a retired Army Air Forces colonel who was one of the first 20 aviators on the Italian front in World War 1, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday at Sibley Memorial Hospital.
Col. Fitch volunteered for the U.S. Air Service in World War I He received his flight training in Italy and later flew Italian Caproni bombers in day and night combat over the Alps. He was wounded in action.
He also volunteered for service in the Army Air Forces after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and served as a colonel at the Pentagon during World War II.
Between the wars, he was in the investment banking business in Boston.
After World War II, Col. Fitch was named head of the aviation cadet section of the Army Air Forces in Washington.
In 1952, he joined the staff of the Federal Renegotiation Board - a "watchdog" agency created by Congress during the Korean War to regulate government contracts between companies and federal agencies - as a contract specialist and expert on airplanes and procurement affairs. He retired as an assistant director in 1967.
Col. Fitch was born in West Medford, Mass. In 1917, he received a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College.
He was twice decorated with the Legion of Merit. He was persident of the Dartmouth Club of Washington for five years and received it's first award as "club President of the Year." He was also a member of the International club and the Army-Navy Country Club.
In 1938, he published a book, "Wings in the Night," about his wartime experience.
Survivors include his wife, Nina Demos Fitch, of the home in McLean.