In Honored Glory!
World War II Honor Roll

Frank James Peterson

Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy


Composite Squadron 77
USS Rudyerd Bay CVE-81 

Entered the Service from: Massachusetts
Died: February 19, 1945

Honolulu Memorial
Honolulu, Hawaii
Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, 
               Purple Heart

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER FRANK JAMES PETERSON was the son of Frank H. and Martha Peterson. His father was merchant sea captain, was born in Maine of an old Maine family in 1875. His mother was born in Scotland in 1881 and came to the USA in 1897. The Petersons married in 1905. Frank Peterson was born in Pennsylvania in 1905, his brother John a year later. By the late 1920s the family had purchased a house at 716 Richey Avenue in Collingswood NJ. Frank Peterson graduated from Collingswood High School in 1929, where he had played on the school football team in 1926 and 1927. He had entered service in the United States Naval Reserve around 1940, probably through the air training offered by the Civil Aeronautics Training program, and had received training at Annapolis MD and Pensacola FL.

Lieutenant Commander Frank Peterson was awarded the Air Medal in 1943. It was reported in the August 24, 1943 edition of the Camden Courier-Post that he was awarded the Air Medal, and was senior flying officer aboard the USS SAN FRANCISCO

Commanding Composite Sqaudron 77 (VC-77), Lt. Commander Peterson embarked on the escort carrier USS RUDYERD BAY CVE-81 in August of 1944 at the island of Majuro. On 8 August, RUDYERD BAY headed west. At Eniwetok, she joined TG 30.8, the fast carrier forces' replenishment group, with which she arrived at Manus on the 31st.

During early September, RUDYERD BAY and VC-77 covered the replenishment group as the 3rd Fleet supported the Palau campaign. In October, VC-77's aircraft continued that cover as strikes against the Philippines began. On the 18th, RUDYERD BAY took on wounded sailors from torpedoed HOUSTON (CL 81), transported them to Ulithi, whence, in November, she resumed covering operations which continued into the new year.

On 29 December, with NEHENTA BAY (CVE 74), tankers, and other ships, RUDYERD BAY departed Ulithi. In the Philippine Sea until 10 January 1945, the replenishment group shifted to the South China Sea as the fast carriers continued support of the Lingayen assault and conducted strikes against enemy installations and shipping from Indochina to Formosa. On the 22nd, they retired, via the Sulu and Mindanao Seas and Leyte Gulf, to Ulithi.

RUDYERD BAY remained at Ulithi until 10 February. She then proceeded to Saipan to prepare for the assault on Iwo Jima. Departing the Marianas in TG 51.17, she provided air cover for the troop transports en route to the Volcano Islands, 16 to 18 February.

On February 19, 1945 Lieutenant Commander Frank Peterson was leading attack Squadron VC77 as commanding officer  on one of the first aerial attacks on Iwo Jima after the invasion when his plane (TBM-1C Avenger, BuNo 73254) was hit, presumably by anti-aircraft fire, as it began its attack run. His plane hit the water, and sank immediately.

Lieutenant Commander Peterson aboard USS RUDYERD BAY

Frank James Peterson was survived by his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Edmunds Peterson, of 653 North 2nd Street, Lykens PA, and his brother John.

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