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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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USAAF Crest
16.04.1945 66 Fighter Sq. P47D Thunderbolt 2nd Lt. Vernon R. Peterson

Operation: Armed reconnaissance

Date: 17th April 1945 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 66th Fighter Squadron  57th Fighter Group

Type: P47D Thunderbolt

Serial: 42-74988

Code: Not known

Base: Grosseto Airfield Italy

Location: Near a Railroad bridge at Formigine Italy

Time: 07.45 hrs

Pilot: 2nd Lt. Vernon R. Peterson 0-2057014 USAAF Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS: 

Whilst bombing a Railroad Bridge at Formigine, he received a direct hit, the plane exploded and crashed into a wooded section near the bridge.

2nd Lt. Vernon R. Peterson and grave at Fort Snelling National Cemetery (courtesy Michel Beckers and Steve Edquist)

Report by 1st Lt. Truman R. Heron 0-722073:

'I led a flight of three aircraft, dive bombing a railroad bridge at Formigine. I watched Lt. Peterson go in on his bomb run and think that he went in too low. He was seen to snap on his back and go in. I saw him hit the ground and his plane exploded on impact. I did not see him get out. The plane hit in a wooded section south of the target at L-475-575, Italy. I did not see his parachute open.'

Report by 1st Lt. George M. Blackburn 0-2057536:

'Flying on a three ship rec., Lt. Peterson number two man rolled into his dive bomb  run. He started his run from 7,000 ft. I watched him closely, he got a direct hit on a small bridge. I observed the explosion and almost immediately Lt. Peterson’s aircraft snapped to the left violently, rolled on its back and with the ship apparently out of control it crashed into the wooded section nearby at L-475-575, Italy. I did not see his parachute open.'

Further information: Vernon R. Peterson, was born on 18th May 1924. After attending Primary Schools (Penn, Jordan and Patrick Henry Schools) and High school in Minneapolis he studied for one year at the Minnesota University. He enlisted to the Army Air Corps on 28th February 1943.

After his primary military training at the Jefferson Barracks in Missouri, he attended cadet training at the Michigan State College in East Lansing, Michigan. In June 1944 he received his wings and was sent to Europe on 7th January 1945. He flew in the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt during the Italian campaign. During his 44th mission on 17th April 1945 he was shot down and killed.

Burial details: 

2lt. Vernon R Peterson. Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Hennepin County Minnesota, USA Plot: C BLK, 7806. Next of kin details not available - are you able to complete?

Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - January 2015. With thanks to Steve Edquist for grave photograph.

2nd Lt. Vernon R. Peterson Air medal (courtesy Michel Beckers)

Acknowledgments: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 15 January 2015, 20:29