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Navy destroyer to be named after first Black aviator

Navy destroyer to be named after first Black aviator

CHERRY POINT, N.C.—-

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.

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