John M. Perritt, Jr., 69, of Fleming Island, Florida, died suddenly on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020.
In 1970, Perritt was awarded the Carnegie Medal for attempting to save a 19-year-old man from drowning in Orange Park, Florida, after he fell 80 feet from a bridge into the St. Johns River.
The man and Perritt were carpenter’s helpers who were working on the bridge. After his coworker fell, Perritt, 18, removed his boots and jumped from the same height into the river.
Recovering from the impact, he swam to the man, who was beneath the surface. Perritt submerged three times, each time attempting to aid the man who struggled with him.
When the young man sank from sight, Perritt continued to try to locate him. A boat arrived and aided Perritt aboard. His coworker, who had drowned, was recovered later.
Perritt was born to Ann Corlew and John M. Perritt, Sr. He earned the Eagle Scout ranking in Boy Scouts and graduated from Orange Park High School in 1969. He served in the United States Air Force and Florida Air National Guard, retiring as a lieutenant colonel after 24 years of service.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in science at Florida State University and later attended Southern Illinois University where he earned a master’s degree in business and Certified Public Accountant credentials.
In 2015, Perritt retired as a captain of the A320 air liner. His 30-year career with Northwest and Delta airlines allowed him to travel the world.
Perritt is survived by his mother, wife Lorraine M. Perritt, son John H. Perritt, stepson Michael Field, sister Suzanne Perritt Cravey, brother James Scott Perritt, and a nephew Perritt was known as a Seminole Booster Club supporter, a First Dan Black Belt holder in Tang Soo Do, and recipient of the Air Force Medal.