Fred N. Petersen Jr. (1952/05/25)

A Danish born Watsonville photographer marched off to war, never to march home.

Fred N. Petersen Jr. was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1916, to Mr. and Mrs. Fred N. Petersen, Sr. The Petersen family, which also included another son Eric, immigrated to the US and settled in Great Neck, Long Island, New York. Fred later moved to Orange County, New York. After completing three years of high school, he left school to become a photographer. At this time, he married Evelyn.

On January 31, 1941, Fred Jr. enlisted in the US Army at Albany, New York and after completing basic training, spent the next year serving in an artillery unit. He applied for and was accepted into the Officers Candidate School program at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in April 1943. After his graduation in July, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and trained as a pilot for artillery spotting work. The next two years of his military tour were spent in a field artillery unit in the South Pacific. His final World War II assignment was at Fort Sill where he served as an instructor.

After the war, Petersen left active duty, moved to Watsonville and entered into the life of the community. While living in the Pajaro Valley, he worked as a commercial photographer and he and his wife had a son, Fred III, in 1948.

Peterson kept his reserve commission active and served as commander of the local Army National Guard Company. In July 1951 Captain Fred Petersen was recalled to active duty and reported to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After completing a refresher course, he was ordered to Korea and in November 1951, reported to Headquarters Battery of the 25th Infantry Division Artillery.

During his assignment in Korea, Captain Petersen served as an artillery observer/pilot and in January 1952, had flown twenty combat missions and earned the Air Medal. By the end of May, he had posted over 150 total missions in Korea while serving in the Iron Triangle sector. On May 25, 1952, with less than a month remaining on his tour he flew a mission into the Iron Triangle area that would be his last. During that mission, his plane was shot down and Captain Fred N. Petersen Jr. was killed.

His remains were recovered and returned to Watsonville, where a funeral was conducted and he was buried in the Pajaro Valley Memorial Park. His awards also include the Purple Heart.

(NARA2; ABMC; NARAK; Kinquest, Danes in the US Army 1940-1946, , [16 September 2008]; WRP April 4, 1952 10:4, May 30, 1952 1:1, July
22, 1952 2:2)

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1950s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art & History.
Identifier: RO-PETERSEN


Nelson, Robert L. “Fred N. Petersen Jr. (1952/05/25).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.