Tribute to Blair Peterson
Branch of Service: US Army Air Corps
Unit: 873rd Bomb Squadron, 498th Bomb Group, 73rd Bomb Wing, 20th Army Air Force
Specialty: Gunner/Electronics Engineer on B-29s
Upon entering the service, Blair trained in airplane armament and engine and electrical mechanics. He also trained in aircraft air to air gunnery. Duties included inspection and repairs of aircraft electrical equipment. He was assigned to flight crews on the most heavy bombers of the entire war, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. Transferred to the Pacific Theater of Operations, he was assigned to the 873rd Bombardment Squadron stationed on the island of Saipan in the Marianas Chain. Preparations hurried to provide for additional flight and ground crews and the many support elements needed to effect the impending heavy strikes against the Japanese home islands. During the approximately thirty-five (35) missions that he flew, his duties concentrated on in-flight electrical maintenance and the machine gun combat defense of his plane against attacking Japanese fighters. Blair performed these duties as his plane became involved in the first large scale raid against the Japanese home islands.
The first large scale B-29 campaign against Japan's home islands began from the island of Saipan and got underway the Friday morning of 24 November 1944. Bad weather including high winds delayed lift off, but finally one hundred twelve Superforts of the 73rd Wing were on their way in this historic mission. Upon returing to Saipan, crews told of eighty to ninety Japanese fighter attacks against their bombers which were repelled with heavy losses to the enemy. B-29 crew injured were treated and damages repaired in preparation for the many missions that would follow. Blair and all his crewmen would spend long hours at their posts. Despite heavy destruction that would follow, the Japanese high commands continued in their futile resistance until two B-29s, the Enola Gay and Bock's Car, brought the war to a sudden and dramatic conclusion in August 1945.
Among the battles and campaigns in which Blair served were the Eastern Mandates Western Pacific, Ryikus Islands, China theatre and the Air Offensive against Japan.
Decorations and Citations: Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon with Silver Battle Star, the Overseas Service Bar, the Air Medal with four Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal. In addition, two Distinguished Unit Citations were awarded the 498th Bombardment Group dated 13 November 1945 and 23 January 1946 under the authority of Major General Parker and citing specific actions involving outstanding performance of duty in armed conflict against the enemy.
Medals and awards earned pictured below in order:
Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal, Overseas Service Bar, Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross Medal
After the war ended Blair was separated out of service in September of 1945 and returned to his parents' home in Evanston, Illinois. He met and married his love, Margaret, in 1955 and resided in Skokie, Illinois and Indianapolis, Indiana before finally relocating to Nashville, Tennessee. During this time their family expanded to include daughter Kathy and son Blair Jr. While Blair made a career in the insurance business, Blair Jr. became an engineer with the Boeing Aircraft Company, of Superfortress fame, while Kathy pursued a career in speech language pathology. Through the years Blair and Margaret attended several reunions of the 73rd B-29 Wing with friends. He flew his final mission in January of 2006 and joined the rapidly growing membership of the Greatest Generation, in fond memory. He is survived by Margaret, daughter Kathy and her family, and son Blair Jr., and by the rest of us who join them in saying, "Thanks Blair, thanks for everying."
Submitted by William Ortlund (cousin)
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