The First African-American Marine Aviator and General, Frank Petersen Jr. Dies at age 83, Â onÂ Tuesday, August 25.
Frank Petersen Jr.Â made history when he becameÂ the first African-American aviatorÂ in the Marine Corps and then as the Corpsâ€™ first African-American brigadier general, after completing training in 1952.
According to media reports, his wife, AliciaÂ said thatÂ Petersen died from lung cancer at his home in Stevensville, Maryland.
In his 38 years of service, Petersen hasÂ received many honors.Â He received the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat ‘Vâ€™, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Meritorious Service MedalÂ andÂ the Purple Heart.
PetersenÂ was “a pioneer and warrior,” the Marine Corps said in announcing his death.
President Obama appointed Petersen to the Board of Visitors to the United States Naval Academy in 2010.
Frank E. Petersen Jr.Â was born on March 2, 1932 in Topeka, Kansas, a Topeka native and Topeka High graduate.Â He graduated in 1967 from George Washington University and later received his masterâ€™s degree while he was in the Marines.
After two years of service in the Navy, Peterson was commissioned as second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1952. HeÂ was promoted to brigadier general in 1979, becoming the first African-American to hold the rank in the Marine Corps.Â HeÂ flew more than 350 combat missions in Korea and VietnamÂ and hasÂ 4,000 military aircraft hours. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1988.
Petersen married Eleanor Burton in 1955. TheyÂ hadÂ fourÂ children but itÂ ended in a divorce. Later on, he married his second wifeÂ Alicia Downes and had one daughter, oneÂ grandson andÂ three great-grandchildren.
GeneralÂ Frank Petersen Jr. worked for DuPont as a vice president for corporate aviationÂ after leaving the active military duty in 1988Â andÂ thenÂ left the corporate world in 1997. IMAGE/Â Getty Images