Fallen soldiers profile: Delbert Ray Peterson

Delbert Ray Peterson

Delbert Ray Peterson

Daily Staff

Delbert Ray Peterson, of Manson, was the son of Raymond and Bernice Peterson.

Peterson attended Iowa State from 1957 to 1962. In his time at Iowa State, Peterson took Air Force ROTC training in Washington, and was initiated into the O’Neil Squadron of Iowa State’s Arnold Air Society.

Upon graduating, Peterson was assigned to active duty in fall 1963. In November 1965, during the Vietnam War, Peterson was assigned to the 4th Air Commando Squadron (Fire Support), 14th Air Commando Wing, Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Vietnam, Seventh Air Force, where he co-piloted an AC-47.

Peterson was involved with a rescue mission for a U.S. Special Forces Camp that was surrounded by enemies. His plane was damaged and the crew made a crash landing on a mountain slope, where they had to station a defense against enemy attacks.

Waiting for a helicopter to arrive, the crew defended against two enemy attacks which claimed the lives of two crew members and wounded another. Peterson was in command of the four remaining men when the helicopter finally arrived, when enemy machine gun fire threatened their chance of rescue. Peterson charged the gun, ceasing the enemy fire as the helicopter picked up the remaining three crew members.

Peterson wasn’t rescued. When last seen he was alive and seen crawling behind the crashed plane. He wasn’t found when ground forces returned to the crash site and was presumed to be captured. Originally listed as missing in action, in February 1978 his status was changed to killed in action. During his time missing, he was promoted to major.

Peterson was awarded the Air Force Cross. His remains were never recovered.