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Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
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There was no parade


Fri, Jan 3rd, 2014
Posted in All Features

My brother, Norman Peterson, was an Air Force Aviator, having enlisted in the Air Force in 1947 and served his country for 22 years. Being a younger brother I have many memories of my brother, mainly when he would come home on leave to Cresco, Iowa. He took the time to teach me about airplanes, fishing and hunting. Even at a young age I would consult a world map and imagine the travels he would be on. But little was known about his life experiences and it was only recently that he had given me a packet of notes and pages he had written.

There were notes, all hand written, that gave details of some of his missions. I never knew many of the accounts and I feel sad that I never had the opportunity to sit down and speak to him about these important events in his life.

My parents, Alice and Alvin Peterson, had three sons and for several years all three of us were in the Air Force. I was stationed in Ben Guerir, Morocco and Norman always joked about me living in the desert! Norman was located in Europe and north Africa flying C-130’s. One of his missions was to fly for the Shah of Iran. He worked with Francis Gary Powers by transporting the U2 pictures that Powers had taken over Russia to England.

In 1956 Major Peterson aided the retrieval and airlifting of refugees from Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution. That same year he was awarded the Italian Gold Star of Solidarity by the President of Italy for heroic relief flights during the European blizzard. One of the most dangerous jobs in the sky was being a Forward Air Controller. He spent two tours in Vietnam Name flying missions along the DMZ. There is no way to tell how many American lives were saved because of his ability to fly “low and slow” in his 0-1 observation plane.

My brother was a man who “Got the Job Done.” He was selected to evacuate the ill-fated President Diem of South Vietnam from Saigon to the Philippines. Following his return to the States, he taught Forward Air Controller classes to dozen of young men that would go to Vietnam.

The three brothers got out of the Air Force about the same time. Norman and his family retired in North Carolina, my other brother to Cresco, Iowa and my wife and I in Minnesota. There were many negative experiences associated with the members of our military coming home from Vietnam. Many of them were sworn at, spit on and turned down for one job or another because “they were over there.” In many of our small towns, it wasn’t even safe to wear the uniform. That isn’t the way it should be.

There were no parades.

Last week the television stations were covering the story of a meteor that had blazed a trail across northeast Iowa. It lit up the sky for hundreds of miles and at approximately the same time my brother was dying in North Carolina. I will never look at a meteor the same way again.

That was my brother’s parade.

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