Frank Petersen, First African American Marine Aviator, Dies
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

(Image: File)

Frank Petersen, the first African American Marine aviator, died this week, according to reports. He was 83.

[Related: Mel Farr, Former NFL Running Back and Business Titan, Dies at 70]

He reportedly 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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Janell Hazelwood

Janell Hazelwood is associate managing editor at Black Enterprise, managing content across core areas of Money, Career, Small Business and Technology. She is also a featured blogger with My Two Cents, providing insights on branding, millennial career development, employment trends and leadership. She was previously a content producer and copy editor for Black Enterprise magazine, working across several editorial sections. The Hampton University graduate got her start in the newspaper industry, having worked for companies including The New York Times and Scripps Howard News Service. Her works and insights have appeared on The Huffington Post, MadameNoire, E!Online, Brazen Careerist, CBS News, and Arise TV.


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