Friday, November 10, 2006

Forrest S. Petersen, 1922-1990

Forrest Petersen was born in Holdrege, Nebraska on 16 May 1922. He is the son of Mrs. Stella B. Petersen who lives in Gibbon, Nebraska. Prior to entering the Navy he attended the University of Nebraska.
He was commissioned an Ensign upon graduation from the United States Naval Academy in June of 1944 and reported to the destroyer USS CAPERTON (DD 650). While serving aboard CAPERTON he participated in campaigns in the Philippines, Formosa and Okinawa. After graduation from flight training in 1947, he was assigned to Fighting Squadron Twenty Able which was later redesignated Fighter Squadron ONE NINETY TWO.
He was selected for Post Graduate training in Aeronautical Engineering in July 1950 and upon completion of two years of study at the Naval Post Graduate School was awarded a Bachelors Degree (AE). He continued studies for one year at Princeton University and received a Masters Degree in Engineering. From 1953 to 1956 he served with Fighter Squadron FIFTY ONE. In 1956 he was selected to attend the Naval Test Pilot School and remained as an instructor following graduation. in August 1958 he was assigned duties as Research Pilot in the X-15 Program and served with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Flight Research Center at Edwards, California until January 1962. During that time he made five free flights in the X-15 and achieved a speed of 3,600 MPH (Mach No. 5.3) and an altitude of about 102,000 feet. Captain Petersen was the only Navy pilot to fly the X-15. In July 1962 he was a joint recipient of the Collier Trophy which was presented by President John F. Kennedy and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal which was presented by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Captain Petersen served as Commanding Officer of Fighter Squadron ONE FIFTY FOUR prior to being assigned to the office of Director, Division of Naval Reactors, AEC for Nuclear Power Training. He reported to USS ENTERPRISE in January 1964 and served therein as Executive Officer until April 1966. He was awarded the Bronze Star for duty during ENTERPRISE's first combat tour in Vietnam. He was then assigned duties as an Assistant to the Director of Naval Program Planning in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations. In November 1967 he assumed command of USS BEXAR (APA 237) in the Pacific Fleet Amphibious Forces. Following an eight month deployment with the Seventh Fleet Amphibious Forces in the Western Pacific he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V. Petersen holds the following awards for service in World War II, Korean War and the Vietnam War:
Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, American Defense, Pacific Theatre, American Theatre, Asiatic Theatre, China Service, Japanese Occupation, Philippine Liberation, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, World War II Victory, Korean Service, United Nations Korean Service, Vietnam Service, Vietnamese Campaign.