ORAL HISTORY ARCHIVE   A-CD-GH-LM-RS-Z

Frank Petersen
National Visionary


Born March 2, 1932 in Topeka, Kansas

The first African American fighter pilot and three-star general in the Marine Corps








BIOGRAPHY
Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen, the first African American aviator and general in the United States Marine Corps, was born March 2, 1932 in Topeka, Kansas. He joined the U.S. Navy as a seaman apprentice in 1950 and served as an electronics technician. In 1951, he entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program. After completing his flight training in 1952, he accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1979, major general in 1983 and lieutenant general in 1986.

His first tactical assignment was with Marine Fighter Squadron 212 during the Korean conflict. Lt. Gen. Petersen commanded all levels of Marine Corps aviation, including a Marine Fighter Squadron, a Marine Aircraft Group, a Marine Amphibious Brigade and a Marine Aircraft Wing. Lt. Gen. Petersen served two combat tours, Korea in 1953 and Vietnam in 1968. He flew in excess of 350 combat missions, and had over 4,000 hours in various fighter/attack aircrafts.

He received his bachelor's degree in 1967 and his master's degree in 1973, both from George Washington University in Washington, DC. In 1987 he was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Law degree granted by Virginia Union University in Richmond, VA. In addition, he also attended the following service schools: the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia, the Aviation Safety Officers Course at the University of Southern California and the National War College in Washington, DC.

Petersen Tribute

Frank Petersen discusses
The highs and lows of his life.
His numerous decorations include: the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Combat "V", Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V" and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

Lt. Gen. Petersen retired from the Marine Corps in 1988. Upon his retirement, he was presented the Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service as the Commanding General of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Virginia, from June 1986 to July 1988.

At the time of his retirement, he was, by date of aviator designation, the senior ranking aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy with respective titles of "Silver Hawk" and "Grey Eagle". His date of designation as an aviator also precedes all other aviators in the U.S. Air Force and Army.


VIDEO CLIPS


EXTERNAL LINKS
Frank Petersen on Wikipedia
Biography on Answers.com
Petersen's Autobiography on Amazon.com

URL (Click to bookmark): http://www.visionaryproject.org/petersenfrank


ORAL HISTORY ARCHIVE   A-CD-GH-LM-RS-Z