Otto H. Peterson

Now Major
Mrs. Minnie Peterson of Des Moines, IA, formerly a resident of Eau Claire, recently received a cable from her son, Otto H. Peterson, now stationed in England, just before Christmas, saying he is Commander of a transport squadron. 

Major Peterson was attending Eau Claire State Teachers College at the time of his enlistment in the fall of 1940. 

Mrs. David Steven of  519 Second Avenue and Mrs. Whitman Rork of Owen are sisters of Major Peterson.

Mr. and Mrs. Walter Wilk, 1119 Second Avenue, announce the engagement of their daughter, Alice, to Major O. H. Peterson, son of Mrs. Minnie Peterson, 519 Second Avenue.

Major Peterson, an Army transport pilot, is now stationed in England, having served for some months in Africa.

Wherever American forces are stationed overseas, the American Red Cross looks after their intellectual advancement as well as their physical comfort and their entertainment. We heard a description recently of the work of the Red Cross clubs in Egypt and parts of the Near East in making it possible for soldiers and sailors to visit the scenes so rich in historical significance. That is being done in Italy, too, as that country comes under control of the Allies.

A letter of praise for the Red Cross work in this respect was received recently by Mrs. David Steven, formerly of Eau Claire, now of Los Angeles, CA. The following V-mail. letter is from her brother, Major O. H. Peterson, who is now a pilot with the Air Transport Command. Major Peterson is the son of Mrs. Minnie Peterson, 519 Second Avenue, this city.

He wrote: "DEAR HATTIE: 

"Not much of interest going on, as far as I'm concerned, at least not to write about, but I saw the ruins of Pompeii the other day, and you might like to hear about them. I was a member of a touring party arranged by the Red Cross in Naples to go out and see the excavated remains of Pompeii. We rode out there, about 15 miles, in a unique tram, which probably compares with the type of train used in the U.S. about 1910. At the entrance or gate through the wall which surrounds the town, our guide briefed us on the history of the place and, with still-active Vesuvius belching smoke in the background, it was not hard for us to imagine what happened. We stepped lively over the chariot-grooved streets, turned round and round the once popular forum, visited once popular wine shops, lowered one eyelash, while some of the nurses blushed when we saw a few of the statues, and ended with a view of the amphitheater.

"It was a half day well-spent, and another item to chalk up to the efficient Red Cross service. Really, the work overseas that the Red Cross is doing is grand and deserving every bit of its widespread praise. I know that the soldiers will back that organization to the limit from now on out and after the war. Keep 'em flyingóBUD"

Wins Three Decorations in Backing Up Fighting Lines from Sfax to Deep in Italy
After a year at the battlefronts of Africa, Sicily, and Italy, bombing and strafing German troops, strong points and supply lines, the United States of America looked mighty good to him, Captain William R. Thompson, United States Army Air Corps, now spending a 20-day leave at his home here, said. 

"Those cities in Africa and Italy are way behind the times when compared with American cities, and the things we miss most are the little things that are routine at home," he said. 

The Red Cross is doing a wonderful job in providing gathering places for officers and men and furnishing some of the peculiarly American things so dear to the soldiers, such as snack bars and lounging rooms, Captain Thompson said. 

Captain Thompson, son of Mrs. Anna Thompson, Old Chippewa Road, flew to Africa in a B-25 Mitchell bomber, leaving the United States on March 20, 1943 and arrived back in the United States this month. 

Three Decorations
He has 52 bombing missions to his credit and wears the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart. 

Flying the South Atlantic from South America, Captain Thompson flew across Central Africa to Cairo and then to the front lines in Africa around Sfax, backing up the British Eighth Army.

His squadron was stationed close behind the fighting lines at all times, bombing targets in support of ground troops, such as gun positions, troop concentrations, and supply lines. He was in on the fighting for the rest of the African Campaign, supporting both British and American troops as the Allies closed in on Bizerte and Tunis. 

Captain Thompson was in the first wave of American bombers to sweep over Sicily last July when invasion of that island started. 

Shot Down at Night 
It was on the sixth day after the invasion that he was shot down behind American lines and won his first decoration, the Purple Heart. Captain Thompson was flying a night mission. It was about 2 am and bright moonlight, when German night-fighter planes swept down and showered his plane with bullets. One engine was put out of commission and, in a few minutes, the plane caught fire and Captain Thompson ordered the crew to bail out. They were first hit while flying at about 7,000 feet but the plane was only about 1,000 feet up when it started to disintegrate and Thompson bailed out. 

He landed at the edge of a cliff, bounced off, and rolled down the side. He got out alone but has no recollection of getting out of his parachute or making his way up the hill. Picked up by American troops, he was taken to a hospital, suffering concussion of the brain and severe cuts and bruises. However, he recovered rapidly, being released from the hospital in 10 days and returned to active duty two months later. 

All members of his crew, a total of six men, parachuted safely from the stricken plane. 

Ship Hit Many Times 
In Italy, Captain Thompson operated from the airfield at Foggia and other places. The Germans did not furnish much fighter opposition in Italy, he said, but their anti-aircraft fire is heavy and accurate. His ship was hit many times; after one mission, more than 60 holes were counted. "It's not a comfortable feeling when ack-ack  starts hitting your plane," he said, as you realize it only takes one hit in the right place." 

Virtually all Italian cities anywhere near the battle zone have been bombed flat, Captain Thompson said, with the exception of a few mountain villages of no strategic importance. German gun emplacements are well-dug-in and it is impossible to knock them out without a direct hit, he said. Also they keep moving them. 

The lot of the Italian people is severe, he added. They have little food and, bombed out of their homes, they use any improvised shelter they can find. He said they're friendly to Americans and, whenever airmen are shot down in Italian neighborhoods, they are given every consideration.

Captain Thompson visited Major Otto Peterson, stationed at Algiers, but had not had contact with others from Eau Claire. In his squadron in Italy was Technical Sergeant Marvin Babbit of Bloomer. Babbit is now in the Near East and is believed on his way to India.

At the conclusion of his leave, Captain Thompson will report at Atlantic City for assignment.

Otto H. Peterson, 24, of Eau Claire, has been promoted from Major to Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Air Corps. His mother, Mrs. Minnie B. Peterson, resides at 519 Second Avenue, and his father is in Kansas City. He has two sisters, Mrs. Whitwam Rork of Owen and Mrs. David R. Stevens of Los Angeles, CA.

Lieutenant Colonel Peterson served as pilot and squadron commander in the North African and Italian Theaters and is now located in England.

He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Air Corps at Kelley Field, TX in July 1941.

Lt. Col Peterson Leads Ninth Air Force Invaders
A NINTH AIR FORCE TROOP CARRIER STATION, European Theater of Operations, EnglandóLieutenant Colonel  Otto H. Peterson, 519 Second Avenue, Eau Claire, WI, got in on the first blow the Allied Expeditionary Air Forces took at the Nazis in the invasion of the Continent when he flew over the English Channel with the first element of the Ninth Air Force Troop Carrier Command, in which airborne troops were dropped onto the coast of France.

As squadron commander, he led a flight of Paratroop-hauling, glider-towing C-47 planes, which participated in the opening thrust of the second front, which saw more than 900 aircraft drop men and supplies onto the Continent. 

The airborne troops were able to make their initial attack a success because men like Colonel Peterson performed their job well. Men were dropped into the target area to spread destruction among the enemy so Infantrymen, who landed on the coast of France a few hours later, could proceed with a minimum of resistance. 

Colonel Peterson is the son of Mrs. M. B. Peterson, 519 Second Avenue, Eau Claire, WI.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Class of 1938.

The IX Troop Carrier Command, to which his unit is attached, is commanded by Brigadier General Paul L. Williams.

Colonel Peterson Presents His Unit With Air Medals
A NINTH AIR FORCE TROOP CARRIER BASE, European Theater of OperationsóLieutenant Colonel Otto H. Peterson, Eau Claire, Commanding Officer of a troop carrier squadron, himself a holder of the Air Medal, presented Air Medals to members of his unit who participated in the D-Day invasion of the Cherbourg Peninsula. Members of this Ninth Air Force Troop Carrier Command Unit took part in the world's greatest airborne operation against the defenses of Hitler's "Fortress Europe".

In presenting the medals to the men, Colonel Peterson spoke of their participation on D-Day, saying, "Your magnificent spirit and enthusiasm, combined with skill, courage and devotion to duty is reflected in your brilliant operation of unarmed and unarmored troop carrier aircraft at minimum altitudes and air speeds, in unfavorable weather conditions, over water, and into the face of vigorous enemy opposition, to spearhead the Allied invasion of the continent and to support air and ground forces in the critical period which followed. Your respective duty assignments were performed in such an admirable manner as to produce exceptional results in the greatest and most successful airborne operation in the history of world aviation."

Colonel Peterson is the son of Mrs. E. B. Peterson, 519 Second Avenue, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Class of  1938 and attended Eau Claire Teachers College.

The Ninth Troop Carrier Command, to which his unit is attached, is headed by Brigadier General Paul L. Williams.

Young Lieutenant Colonel from City Has Tough Role
Lieutenant Colonel Otto H. Peterson, 519 Second Avenue, Eau Claire, WI, is pictured above at the far right as he outlines a flight plan to Captain Robert M. Davis, Coraopolic, PA (left) and Major William F. Mandt, Charleston, WV (center). The men are shown standing besides a C-47 Douglas plane, which they will pilot during the invasion of Europe. Colonel Peterson, a squadron leader, will have an important job to do in leading his men on operational flights.
A NINTH AIR FORCE TROOP CARRIER COMMAND STATION, EnglandóLieutenant Colonel Otto H. Peterson, 519 Second Avenue, Eau Claire, WI, Commanding Officer of a Ninth Air Force Troop Carrier Command Squadron "somewhere in England," whose promotion was announced recently, has had a phenomenal rise in rank since joining his squadron as one of the original cadre in June 1942. Such could be counted as "local boy makes good." The unit which he commands has as its primary mission the transport of paratroops and airborne troops into enemy territory and to bring back the wounded on their return trip. This "tough assignment" calls for the highest degree of skill and courage.

The IX Troop Carrier Command, to which his unit has been assigned since coming to England, is a part of the Ninth Air Force, veteran of  the North African Desert Campaign, now United States component of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force. 

Newest of troop carrier organizations, IX Troop Carrier Command is commanded by Brigadier General Paul L. Williams, planner and leader of the troop carrier operations, which spearheaded the invasion of Sicily.

Colonel Peterson will play a very important role in actually developing what is proving, in the words of General Arnold, to be the newest major tactic of the waró"vertical envelopment from the sky."

Colonel Peterson enlisted in the Army Reserve Corps as a cadet in November 1940 was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in July 1941, was appointed First Lieutenant in July 1942, Captain in November 1942, Major in April 1943, and Lieutenant Colonel in April 1944. 

He attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI during 1937-38 and spent two years at Eau Claire Teachers College, Eau Claire, WI, leaving there in 1940 to enlist as a cadet in the Air Corps Reserve. He received his final flight training in 1941 at Kelley Field, TX.

Colonel Peterson has the distinction of being one of the youngest colonels in the Ninth Air Force stationed in England, being appointed Lieutenant Colonel at the age of 24.

He is the son of Mrs. M. B. Peterson, who resides at 519 Second Avenue, Eau Claire, WI. He will be remembered by many Eau Claire youngsters as a "Y" counselor at Manitou YMCA Camp for several years and was active in high school and college athletics.

Lieutenant Colonel Otto H. Peterson, son of Mrs. M. B. Peterson, 519 Second Avenue, is currently assigned to the Army Air Forces Redistribution Station at Santa Ana Army Air Base. Colonel Peterson entered the service on November 25, 1940 and went overseas in November 1942. He has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Unit Citation for the Ninth Air Force, the Air Medal, and the European Theater Ribbon with three Battle Stars.

Lt. Col. Peterson Is Assistant to Operations Head
SAN MARCOS ARMY AIR FIELD, Texas, March 17óLieutenant Colonel Otto H. Peterson of 519 Second Avenue is now stationed at San Marcos Army Air Field, a Navigation School of the Army Air Forces Training Command. He will serve as Assistant to the Director of Operations and Training.

A veteran of two years overseas with the Ninth, Twelfth, and Eighth Air Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Peterson wears the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. He also has the Distinguished Unit Citation.

Before entering the service, he was a student at Eau Claire State Teachers College and had previously attended the University of Wisconsin.