Joseph “Pete” Peterson

Joseph “Pete” Peterson

The community is invited to a ceremony to memorialize Captain Joseph “Pete” Peterson, who made history as a student athlete in Tuskegee and also established an enduring legacy with the U.S. Air Force.

A 1969 graduate of Tuskegee High School, Captain Peterson was commissioned as a second lieutenant after completing the Air Force ROTC Program and earned his wings at William’s Air Force Base, where he later served as an instructor and became Chief of Training.

He was the second African-American to serve as a pilot with the elite U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Tragedy ended his 32-year-old life during a pre-season training accident on Jan. 18, 1982 when four members of the Thunderbirds died when their planes crashed on the same practice run.

Soon, a 10.5-mile stretch of State Road 199 will be renamed in his honor. The new name will be Captain Joseph “Pete” Peterson Memorial Boulevard.

Planning for the dedication ceremony has been in progress for several months involving Captain Peterson’s family, community leaders and individuals who knew him when he lived in Tuskegee.

The initiative to honor Captain Peterson originated with George Alexander, president of the Tuskegee Institute High School Class of 1964. Members of the class worked with state and local officials to have Captain Peterson honored in this way.

General Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton, the first African-American pilot to fly with the famous Thunderbirds is scheduled to make remarks.

The Thunderbirds are working on conducting a flyover during the dedication, but for this to happen, several scheduling obstacles must be resolved. This complication has made it difficult to set an exact time for the event. However, this detail will be decided and announced well in advance of the ceremony date.

The dedication ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017.

-- Submitted by Karin Hopkins

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