Honoring Our Veterans: Frank Petersen, First African American Marine Aviator

Black Enterprise spotlights our national heroes and heroines

Frank Petersen, the first African American Marine aviator, passed away in August. He was 83.

According to reports, he died of lung cancer and no further details about how or where he died were available.

Petersen served for 38 years in the Marine Corps, and during his service, he flew more than 350 combat missions over Korea and Vietnam.

He earned many military awards during his career, including the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and the Meritorious Service Medal, according the Marines’ official website. He retired in 1988 as a lieutenant general and the first black general in the Marines’ history.

“As much as I would like to philosophize and say that it hasn’t, it has made a difference,” he told The Washington Post in a 1988 interview.

In his post-military career, Petersen worked for DuPont as a vice president for corporate aviation, The New York Times reports. He left corporate America in 1997.

Check out more on Petersen’s life via the video below:


(Video via Visionary Project/YouTube)



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