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
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.
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)