Frank Peterson, the U.S. Marines’ first Black pilot, has died at age 83.
Hoping to escape pervasive racism in his Kansas hometown, General Frank Petersen joined the U.S. Navy in 1950 as a seaman apprentice, reports The Boston Globe.
The following year, motivated by the death of the Navy’s first Black aviator Jesse Brown in the Korean War, Peterson entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program, the report says. From there, he went on to make history himself, earning a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in Vietnam “when he was ejected after his plane was struck by anti-aircraft fire over the demilitarized zone” in 1968.
He died Tuesday at his home in Stevensville, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The cause was complications from lung cancer, according to The Globe:
President Harry S. Truman had ordered the armed forces to desegregate in 1948, but General Petersen later wrote that the Navy and Marine Corps were ‘‘the last to even entertain the idea of integrating their forces.’’ And whenever he left the flight training base in Pensacola, Fla., he was subjected to the indignities of the Jim Crow South.
Bus drivers ordered him to the back of the coach, and he was barred from sitting with white cadets in restaurants and movie theaters. He largely swallowed the treatment, he later told The Washington Post, because he could not fight two battles at once. ‘‘I knew that I couldn’t win if I were to tackle that, as opposed to getting my wings,’’ he said.
One instructor tried to minimize his performance in the air — giving him lackluster ratings — but he said white peers came to his defense. Upon completion of his flight training, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He flew 64 combat missions in Korea in 1953 and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, among other decorations.
Besides his wife, Alicia Downes, of Stevensville, Maryland and Washington, he leaves behind four children from his first marriage, a brother, a sister, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Rest in peace and thank you, Gen. Peterson.
SOURCE: Boston Globe | PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter
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10 Years Later: Remembering Hurricane Katrina
19 photos Launch gallery
1. Governors Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi declared states of emergency, and advised many to leave their homes on Aug. 26. With little preparation, many stayed behind to fight the storm and were left stranded.
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2. A family is seen trying to escape the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in the days it wreaked havoc in New Orleans.
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3. Over 30,000 were left without their homes and possessions because of the hurricane.
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4. The National Guard and UNICEF arrived in New Orleans days after the storm arrived in its worst hit area, the Lower Ninth Ward. In the nation's history, this was the first time UNICEF was called to provide aid in the United States.
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5. Approximately 1,833 deaths were reported in the wake of the hurricane, but with no real memorial or list of the victims, many believe the number is much higher.
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6. Former President George Bush was slammed for his delay in providing relief to the city, leading to an outburst from Kanye West, who stated the president did not care about Black people during a live telethon.
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7. For a week, 30,000 people took shelter in the Superdome, where they were given food and water. With limited medical help, reports claimed 100 people died, when only four died from exhaustion, another from an overdose, and one from an apparent suicide.
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8. More than a million housing units were destroyed during the storm. Half of them were from Louisiana.
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9. Because of the storm, half of the city's population dropped from 484,674 in April 2000 to 230,172 in July 2006.
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10. The difference in flooding was shocking to residents. While tourist areas were left undamaged, some places received one foot of flooding and others up to 10 feet of flooding.
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11. The majority of relief funds sent to New Orleans by George Bush ($120.5 billion) went to emergency relief ($75 billion), not rebuilding.
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12. Private insurance companies provided a total of $30 billion to residents, a lot less than federal aid provided.
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13. A reported 600,000 households were still displaced a month after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.
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14. In the four days after the levees broke, 140 premature babies were brought to the Woman's Hospital in New Orleans.
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15. Midwives helped deliver 20 healthy babies in the storm's aftermath.
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16. While the city lost most of its residents after they were forced to relocate, a slight growth was seen in the city. In 2013, the Census Bureau reported a 2 percent growth (8,827 people) in the metro city area.
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17. 11,494 fewer Whites live in New Orleans due to the storm, but the biggest loss was the African-American community, with 99,650 less. The numbers were not only from the storm, but encompass between 2000 and 2013.
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18. From the Salvation Army: "@salvationarmyus continues to be a source of hope, stability, and service to the residents of the Gulf Coast 10 years after #hurricanekatrina. #doingthemostgood"
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19. From photographer Paul Conrad: "Father Jim O'Bryan of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Pearlington, Miss., gives his sermon Sunday morning October 2, 2005, one month after #hurricanekatrina . The church lifted off its foundation and floated to the middle of the road during the storm surge from Katrina. Work crews destroyed the remainder of the church when they cleared route 607 of debris."
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