Home News Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen Remembered, Honored

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen Remembered, Honored

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Lt Gen Frank Peterson
Members of the Montford Point Marine Association carry the casket of Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. (ret.) during his memorial service at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Sept. 3, 2015. Petersen died Aug. 25, 2015, after succumbing to lung cancer. Petersen was the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and general officer.

By Sgt. Terry Brady, Defense Media Activity

ANNAPOLIS, Md. —

Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. (ret.) was honored at a memorial service at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Sept. 3, 2015.

Lt. Gen. Petersen died at his home in Maryland Aug. 25, 2015, after succumbing to lung cancer. Petersen was the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general officer.

“We celebrate his decades of courageous service to our country,” said Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, Deputy Commandant, Plans, Policies and Operations. “Since his humble beginnings in Topeka, Kansas, he endured the humiliation of segregation. He gained strength and resolute character along the way, which led to him becoming the Marine Corps first African-American aviator in 1952, and ultimately the first African-American Marine Corps general in 1979.

“The country is forever indebted to [him] for his service and protection of our great nation,” said Bailey.

Among the audience stood the family of Lt. Gen. Petersen, service members and honored guests, including Charles F. Bolden, the administrator of NASA, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, the 18th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, and members of the Montford Point Marine Association, who came to pay respects to the late general.

“I think I speak for many of us here that [he] is a part of who we are,” said Bolden. “To have known him is to have known a legend, and we have been made a part of his legacy.”

In addition to his most notable accomplishments during his Marine Corps career, Petersen had flown more than 350 combat missions and more than 4,000 hours in various military aircraft. Petersen commanding officer for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212, deactivated March 11, 2008, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, and served as the commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

“He didn’t ask you to do anything he wouldn’t do. That was a leadership trait he had,” said Frank E. Petersen III, son of Lt. Gen. Petersen. “He taught us many things as a family. Key principles [such as] honor, dignity, family. That’s what [he] instilled in us and that’s what’s going to carry us through this tough time.”

Petersen’s accomplishments were documented in the Congressional Records as part of the archives of the House of Representatives on July 28, 2014.

“On behalf of the family, we appreciate what everyone is doing for his career and his distinguished honor,” said Frank E. Petersen III.

Lt Gen Frank Peterson2
A display for Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. (ret.) is showcased during his memorial service at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Sept. 3, 2015. Petersen died Aug. 25, 2015, after succumbing to lung cancer. Petersen was the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and general officer.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I had the pleasure of meeting Gen. Petersen at BWI airport back when our unit was being deployed to Desert Storm, I had read an article on him in Ebony Magazine during Black History month, he was featured along with the Tuskegee Airmen. I will never forget that day , SEMPER FI MARINE, and may God welcome you with open arms.

  2. I have attended a few services for distinguished flag officers. I recall none where the President did not attend.

    Enuff said?!

  3. General Peterson was my Commanding Officer in VMFA-314 in Viet Nam. I have never met a nicer person in my life. He was the same person to all ranks that were under his command.
    Such a great loss not only to his family but to the Marine Corp as well.
    Semper Fi Sir

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