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Frank E. Petersen Jr. dies at 83; flier was Marines' first black general

Frank E. Petersen Jr. dies at 83; flier was Marines' first black general

When Frank E. Petersen Jr. heard that a pioneering black naval aviator had died fighting in the Korean War, he was astonished. “I had no idea blacks would be allowed to fly in the Navy or in the Marine Corps,” he recalled years later. Petersen went on to become the Marine Corps’ first African American aviator and its first black general, bucking racism at nearly every step of a distinguished military career. After joining the Marines in 1952, he flew 350 combat missions in Korea and later in Vietnam, where he was decorated with the Purple Heart after his plane was shot down over the demilitarized zone. Petersen, who had joined the military to escape the...

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