Peterson, Chesley Gordon “Pete”.

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Peterson, Chesley Gordon “Pete”.born 10-08-1920, Salmon in Idaho, but moved to Utah in his childhood. He joined the Utah National Guard in 1937. In 1939, he joined the Army Air Corps and was selected for air cadet training, but was dismissed before graduation from flight school. He moved to Los Angeles after being dropped from flight school and was working at Douglas Aircraft when he became interested in flying for the Royal Air Force (RAF), who were at that time recruiting Americans to fight the Germans.

Peterson arrived in England in late 1940 and was assigned to No. 71 Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF). No. 71 Squadron was one of the three Eagle Squadrons, made up of volunteer American pilots who served in World War II prior to the United States entering the war. The Americans would fly Hurricanes and Spitfires against the Luftwaffe of Hermann Goering . In time, he was promoted to flight lieutenant, and given command of No. 71 Squadron. Flight Lieutenant Peterson completed 42 missions while flying with the RAF. When he was given command of No. 71 Squadron, he was only 21 years old and the youngest squadron commander in the RAF.

However, he was not, as sometimes claimed, one of the Few. In 1942, Peterson accepted a transfer to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) along with the rest of the Eagle Squadron members. He was assigned to the 4th Fighter Group under command of Colonel Edward Warthon Anderson, as the executive officer and as a major Later he would be promoted to colonel at the age of 23, and became the youngest colonel in the USAAF.

When Peterson, here with Gregory A “Gus” Daymond first joined the 4th Fighter Group, they were assigned the P-47 Thunderbolt,  which was a radical change from the Spitfires the Eagle Squadron pilots had flown. Gregory A “Gus” Daymond, survived the war and died 16-12-1996, age 76, in Newport Beach, Orange County, California  While flying a P-47 over the English Channel, Peterson was forced to bail out at 500 feet (150 m) above the water. His parachute failed, but miraculously Peterson survived both the fall and the dangerous Channel waters.

Top aces (aerial victories) in the 4th Fighter Group were Dominic Salvatore Gentile  Duane Beeson Beeson, Duane William , John T. Godfrey , James A.”Goody” Goodson , Ralph K. Hofer and Donald “Don” Blakeslee. Goody Goodson survived the war and died 01-05-2014, aged 93, in Duxbury, Massachusetts, Ralph Hofer, age 23, on 02-07-1944 he was killed in action, flying a P-51B while climbing to engage 20+ Me.109’s near Budapest, Hungary. The wreckage of his Mustang and his body were later found at Mostar, Yugoslavia.

In January 1944, Peterson was reassigned to VIII Fighter Command as a staff officer and then to a subordinate unit of VIII Fighter Command, the 65th Fighter Wing, until returning to the United States at the end of 1944. During his time overseas, Colonel Peterson flew a total of 130 missions and was credited with nine aerial victories and nine probables.

After attending Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Peterson was assigned as the commander of Dale Mabry Field, Tallahassee, Florida in March 1945. His next assignment was as chief, Air Attache Branch, Headquarters Army Air Forces, Washington, D.C., beginning in August, 1945.

Death and burial ground of Peterson Chesley Gordon”Pete”.

After the war, Colonel Peterson had a variety of assignments including command and staff assignments. Despite not participating directly in either the Korean or Vietnam wars, he was assigned overseas as the commander of flying units in France and Japan during both wars.

Peterson was promoted to major general in 1965. His last assignment on active duty began on 01-04-1967 as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Staff, Commander in Chief, Pacific. Peterson retired 31-07-1970. He died on 28-01-1990 in Riverside, California and is buried with his wife Audrey Boyes Peterson, who died age 92 on 01-06-2007, at Riverside National Cemetery.

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