b. 27/08/1899 Prentice, Wisconsin. d. 13/05/1942 Coral Sea.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 07/05/1942 Coral Sea.
Peterson was born in Prentice, Wisconsin, and enlisted in the Navy on December 8, 1920. After his initial training, he spent his entire Navy career of over twenty years on sea duty aboard various ships. He and his wife Lola had two sons, Fred and Donald.
By the United States' entry into World War II, Peterson had achieved the rank of chief watertender. He was assigned to the USS Neosho, an oiler ship operating in the Pacific theater.
On May 7, 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Neosho was heavily damaged by Japanese dive bombers. In one bombing raid, Peterson and members of the repair party he led were severely wounded. Despite his injuries, he managed to close four bulkhead steam line valves, but suffered third-degree burns to his face, shoulders, arms and hands in the process. By shutting the valves, Peterson isolated the steam to the engine room and helped keep the ship operational.
The Neosho eventually sank on May 11, and the surviving crewmen were picked up by another ship. Peterson died of his burn injuries on May 13 and was buried at sea, several hundred miles off the coast of Australia.
For his actions during the battle, Peterson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor later that year, on December 7. For unknown reasons, his family did not receive his medal in a formal presentation ceremony as was typical. Instead, the medal and accompanying certificate were mailed to his widow
For extraordinary courage and conspicuous heroism above and beyond the call of duty while in charge of a repair party during an attack on the U.S.S. Neosho by enemy Japanese aerial forces on 7 May 1942. Lacking assistance because of injuries to the other members of his repair party and severely wounded himself, Peterson, with no concern for his own life, closed the bulkhead stop valves and in so doing received additional burns which resulted in his death. His spirit of self-sacrifice and loyalty, characteristic of a fine seaman, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.
BURIAL LOCATION: BURIED AT SEA.
MEMORIAL AT MANILA AMERICAN CEMETERY, MANILA, PHILIPPINES.
MEMORIAL AT RICHFIELD CEMETERY, RICHFIELD, IDAHO. Block 9w Lot 3
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