CHERRY POINT, N.C. (NNS) — In a ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, DDG 121, will be named Frank E. Petersen Jr., in honor of the Marine Corps Lieutenant General who was the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general officer.
In 1950, two years after President Harry S. Truman desegregated the armed forces, Petersen enlisted in the Navy.
In 1952, Petersen was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He would go on to fly 350 combat missions during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He also went on to become the first African-American in the Marine Corps to command a fighter squadron, an air group and a major base.
Petersen retired from the Marine Corps in 1988 after 38 years of service. At the time of his retirement he was, by date of designation, the senior-ranking aviator in the Marine Corps and the United States Navy.
Petersen died last year at his home in Stevensville, Md., near Annapolis, at the age of 83.
This is the first ship to be named for Frank E. Petersen Jr.
“The courage and perseverance of Lt. Gen. Petersen throughout his distinguished and ground-breaking career make him especially deserving of this honor,” said Mabus. “Those who serve aboard DDG 121 will, for decades, carry on the storied legacy of this Marine Corps hero.”
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers conduct a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis response to sea control and power projection. DDG 121 will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously, and will contain a combination of offensive and defensive weapon systems designed to support maritime warfare including integrated air and missile defense and vertical launch capabilities.
Construction began on the future USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121) April 27 at the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., and the ship is expected to enter the Navy fleet in 2020.
Frank E. Petersen, Jr. will be built in the Flight IIA configuration with the AEGIS Baseline 9 Combat System which includes Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) capability. This system delivers quick reaction time, high firepower, and increased electronic countermeasures capability for Anti-Air Warfare.
The ship will be 509 feet long, have a beam length of 59 feet and be capable of operating at speeds in excess of 30 knots.
Additional information about the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers is available online at http://www.navy.mil/local/DDG/. Media may direct queries to the Navy Office of Information at (703) 697-5342.
For more information, visit http://www.navy.mil, http://www.facebook.com/usnavy, or http://www.twitter.com/usnavy. For more news from Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs, visit http://www.navy.mil/SECNAV/.
This aviator was not African American. He was an American.
I wonder how many people think the same as we do
He was an AMERICAN end of story
Why not African American? We have Polish American, we have Italian American and Irish American and so on. Proud African American and Vietnam Veteran !st Cav Airborne Artillery 66-67. LZ Bird.
Sorry in the MARINE CORPS we do not have Black Mexican Asian or White only United States Marines maybe the Army
If that were true there would’ve been no need to have to desegregate the military(s).
WTHO…”This aviator was not an African American”. That statement is absurd. Sure, we are all Americans, but we are an America composed of many races.
Get it right Devil puppy: there is only ONE RACE, HUMAN!!! What did they do, forget to put the lid on this Jarhead. ARMY, mops it up once more.
Army mops up? What happened,drop your juice box?
He was an a black man who happened to be in an American milutary. Please don’t ever forget that because he did great things.
You are right He was a Hero
You are right! He was a Hero who heroically fought for this Country! But when Ge came HOME? He was a Black Man! In ameriKKKa & treated as such!!! It would be Wonderful if we were ALL judged/treated equally, but living on Fantasy Ilsand doesn’t make it true!
Very good point leithel1. Indeed, he was and is an American.
Yes, an American, but also a pioneer.
A wonderful American who helped knock down more than a few fences on his way up. Glad to see such a phenomenal choice!
Great choice that honors a great many and the ship that will carry his name.
Yes he’s an American who happens to be African
No! He is not African. He is 100% American and like all Americans his family heritage is from somewhere else.
You got it Johnathan! Sorry he chose to bomb all those other HUMANS. Too many people don’t know the meaning of hu-man or the difference between hu-man and man-kind. NASA KNEW! Listen to the first words of the astronaut upon his first steps on the moon. He speaks of humanity & mankind measuring the distinctions and benifits. Get real people, i.e. wake up and tell the truth!!
Well, it’s nice to see that this libetard fool Mabus, has done something right, prior to him getting the boot by President Trump. Good riddance.
Well what do ya know….Mabus, the liberal putz, after all these years of mucking up the DON, has finally done something right, prior his being booted by President Trump. This political hack, will then have to get a real job.
firstname.lastname@example.org oh go straight to hell..f the last few days has taught us anything its that that post or non rscial drivel white the majority of white people spew isnt worth the sslt in their sweat. And a candid Gen. Petersen would have agreed.
YO…TAKE A CHILL PILL DUDE. WHTH IS UP WITH TELLING SOMEONE TO GO HELL. U have some SERIOUS anger – racist issues. Get help NOW. See a clergy member / counselor. Prayer has been offered that the Almighty intervenes to ease your rage.
email@example.com,Vintage Chief & Gary, I’m with the three of you AMERICAN!
Love this article, but they may have gotten the First Aviator designation skewed.
If by Aviator the writer means the first Naval / Marine Pilot, then that may be correct.
If however, the meaning is the first Black American to fly in the US military, then that would be a mistake.
Remember The Tuskegee Airmen from World War II in the US Army.
The author mentioned he was the first African American marine Aviator
Yeah. OK. If Y’all say so. But guess what? You don’t get a chance to pick and choose. That’s the reason African American history was never taught in America in the first place. Remember, this is the same country who said our president wasn’t an American.
The whole country said that? Really?
Right On! ?
How about naming a ship for the Tuskegee Airmen..
By the look on that man’s face in the photo, I am certain he was 100% pure-blooded American
Need to name a ship after Bolton too!
I agree. An American citizen.You can look him in the eye (in the photo). The man obviously has high standards. The type of American I’m glad that our nation has.
The 3 of you are right in that he was American. However, you obviously don’t understand the significance in the article that he is the first African American. In mainstream media we don’t hear nor see much about about successes of people of color unless its sports or entertainment. So for us and our children, this is very significant.
They claim to want a color blind society, but they continuously focus on color.
Good point leithel1. i am surprised that since he was a Marine Aviator that they don’t name a LHA/LHD for him.
WELL deserved reward for an AMERICAN SOLDIER!
WTHO… NEVER, repeat, NEVER refer to a Marine as a soldier. If an individual earned the title “Marine”, you ALWAYS, repeat, ALWAYS want to be referred to as a Marine.
Semper Fi, Marine! RIP
it sadden me to see and hear how many so-called black American is quick to denied thier historical ties to Africa as a descendant and at the dame time try to be a mix with other race of people who rejects them.that just shows how effective slavery and brainwashing as work on some of our people. Of every human person in America only the black Americans who are of afican descent go out of their way to denounce and denied, you will never hear that from a Caucasian person, a mongoloid person or anyone else.they even try to erase the fact that they were apart of the slave era trade as if only people from the islands are from slave.some blk-American like to say they are Indians some of whom owned many blk people as slaves and in the end denied them any membership in said such tribe.we black people are the only group of people who is willing to adopt and bow to the wimps of weaker people than us which in turns weakened us as a people. Long live the spirit and memory of the African American brother
Too bad it took 70 years after he enlisted
Eugene Bullard, an African-American known as “The Black Swallow of Death”, fought with the French Air Service in 1915. He was was not allowed to fly with the newly formed Army Air Corp in 1917. Bullard was the first African-American pilot. His story is inspiring and deserves recognition.
God bless you général I served 3 years in the marine corps and 17 in the army you’re a fine man and a fine officer Rest In Peace sir
He was a good boss and a good man.
Someone please set the writer of this story straight. But first I must do this: I’m very proud of this AFRICAN-American aviator. He is an American who happens to be of African descent. Ergo, he is an African-American Fighting man as I am. We are proud of our heritage AND America, our homeland. We tout it because for far too long, our ancestors were not considered even human beings. BTW – the only true Americans are the Indians and native people of this great land present here when Europeans landed on their shores and CLAIMED this land as their own as they shot and murdered their way from Plymouth Rock to San Diego. All the rest of us came from other nations and lands. We (African-Americans) are the only race of people who did not come here as immigrants. We came in the storage compartments of slave ships against our will. While I served this nation in the US Air Force for better than 30 years, I will always be an African-American. It is my choice to praise and voice my heritage and my homeland in the same statement. I am just as proud as the next American of MY land, MY flag, MY country and what she is and stands for. I was and AM willing to give my life for the freedom Old Glory stands for.
Now to the error in this story, especially in the headline. General Petersen was NOT “…the first African-American aviator” as stated in the headline. There were many before them, but most notably are the famed Tuskegee Airman. Please correct the “alternative facts” in this story.
He was an American of African descent, but he was not African-American.
Why do people think they are so superior/pure and that white people are the only bad people? Black tribes in Africa killed and murdered each other throughout history, just like every other race. Black tribes sold other Black Africans into slavery…Also Indians warred with each other often and subjugated each other and raped each other’s women…The lesson from history is to be strong and prepared, we better toughen up as a nation! Thanks to all of you for your service!
Motown legend GC Cameron served with General Peterson in Vietnam. Over the years GC has told me of many examples of the General’s valor and character. He stressed that regardless to the accolades received, Peterson was always comfortable in his own skin and always looked after his brothers.
Didn’t know GC was a vet, did Nam and all that. Incredible work with Stevie & Syretta, lead “It’A Shame” for the Spinner’s (Stevie composed) and was with Otis & those Temps last time I heard. At any rate, very talented Brother!
I THINK THIS IS WONDERFUL , AS I SERVED IN KOREA AND KNEW QUITE A FEW THAT ALONG WITH OTHER MATES , THIS IS PAST DUE.THANKS FOR PUTTING THIS UP ….
He was a veteran! Less than one percent of one percent serve! Who cares what his color is.
I would have been honored to polish his brass, buckle and shoes! A great American hero that inspires all Americans.
II served with Frank when he was a captain flying search-and-rescue missions out of Iwakuni. Fine gentleman with a great sense of humor. Spoke with him last around 1981 or 82 when he was Marine Corps Schools CG. Always a friendly word.
I was fortunate enough to raise my right hand to then Col. Petersen, already a Marine Corps legend at that time.
This is a great honor to have his name and memory projected further in history.
True …never refer to a Marine as a soldier. The Army has soldiers and Marines have earned the right to be referred to as Marine.
The Marine Corps is made up of men and women who come from all levels of life in America and who bring all of their hopes, dreams and various beliefs with them on joining the Marines. During the Vietnam War, I served four years with the Marines and listened to the rhetoric about there being only ‘green’ Marines, no black,white, red, brown or yellow. It is the job of the Marines to get a job done. They are not concerned about the political or racial concerns, it is the mission that comes first and anyone who would tell you other than that is blowing smoke up your skivvies. The Marines, like all the other services will continue to have problems when people of different backgrounds and outlooks are thrown together. I watched as the Marines tried to feebly address the racial problems in the Marines during the war in Vietnam, and how futile the attempt was as those in command were forced to recognize that they themselves were a large part of the problem as they had to face the realization that they were part of the entrenched institution of racism that was still embedded in the Marines. The attitudes and expectations of white officers and staff had been surrounded by this history and saw it as part of the legacy of being a Marine. The referring to African American Marines in derogatory names continued from boot camp to duty stations around the world. Later, on the surface, the Marines have attempted to make serious cosmetic changes in the institution, but like most institutions, these changes only had a minimal affect as the nature of the institution is rooted too-deep to remove. The Marines are about the history of the Marines and the mission at hand. If Marines of different races and religions can be prevented from killing each other when in garrison duty, to be able to kill the ‘bad guys of the week’ then mission accomplished. If a few Marines are killed, beaten, racially or religiously oppressed and the mission is completed, then that is the Marines. Duty above everything else. The Marines are not to be faulted for being what they are. Surely, they could not have become the fighting force that they have become having to deal with all the problems that arise when different individuals are thrown together. What becomes important at the end of the day is and will always be the mission-getting the job done. If ‘other’ problems are solved in this process then job well done. But, what is needed is a clearing of the dirt from the window that many of you look thru as you view the Marines. The problems withing the Marines, and there are still problems as I have continued to discover after talking with Marines who are still serving and those who have gotten out. The news of problems is certainly being suppressed preventing the truth from being known, for obvious reasons. What I have attempted to do here is provide a balanced view. The memories of my tour in the Marines, for the good, bad and the ugly are intact. For those who see the Marines, of any branch of the military as a way of life, understand what you will be exposing yourself to and not let the what is told to you by a recruiter who sees you as a number, to sway you with all the positive. Get a balanced view before making your decision, And if you do decide to serve, SERVE. Make changes in the institution you have joined, create change that will make the institution a place where all can benefit. SERVE to create a better service to honor those men and women who came before you and who suffered thru the indignities of the institution. SERVE the be the water of change as it slowly erodes the entrenched rocks of fear and and ignorance.
Jesse Leroy Brown was the first African-American naval aviator (Oct 1948).