U.S. Navy accepts new guided missile destroyer. It's named for native Topekan Frank E. Petersen Jr.

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  • Frank E. Petersen
    Frank E. Petersen
    U.S. Marine Corps general; First African-American Marine Corps general; First African-American Marine Corps aviator
A U.S. Navy destroyer named after the late Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen Jr., a Topeka native shown here, is to be delivered Tuesday to the U.S. government.
A U.S. Navy destroyer named after the late Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen Jr., a Topeka native shown here, is to be delivered Tuesday to the U.S. government.

Dana Moore was moved Tuesday watching online as the U.S. government accepted delivery of the guided missile destroyer named after her father, native Topekan and military trailblazer Frank E. Petersen Jr.

"Beautiful," the Baltimore, Md., woman wrote on that ship's Facebook page. "In tears!"

That page aired a live broadcast of ceremonies in which the ship's commanding officer, Commander Daniel Hancock, accepted its delivery on behalf of the U.S. government from the company that built it.

The vessel was known as Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer DDG 121 when its construction began in 2016 at the shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., where Tuesday's ceremony took place.

The Navy announced that year that the ship would be named in honor of Petersen, a three-star general who became the first Black aviator, first Black general and first Black base commander in the Marine Corps.

The ship's keel was laid in 2017. It was launched in 2018 and christened later that year. The ship recently successfully passed naval acceptance trials.

Frank E. Petersen Jr. first Topekan honored with Navy ship

Frank E. Petersen Jr. navigates in the Gulf of Mexico during bravo trials. Commander Daniel Hancock on Tuesday accepted delivery of the ship on behalf of the U.S. government from Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding division.
Frank E. Petersen Jr. navigates in the Gulf of Mexico during bravo trials. Commander Daniel Hancock on Tuesday accepted delivery of the ship on behalf of the U.S. government from Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding division.

Petersen is thought to be the first Topeka native to become the namesake of a U.S. Navy ship.

He graduated in 1949 from Topeka High School, spent two semesters at Washburn University, enlisted in the Navy in 1950, then left in 1952 to accept a commission as a second lieutenant and become a pilot in the Marine Corps.

Petersen flew more than 350 combat missions and more than 4,000 military aircraft hours during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He was the first Black man in the Marines to command a fighter squadron, an air group and a major base.

Petersen earned a master's degree in 1973 from the National War College in Washington, D.C. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1979, major general in 1983 and lieutenant general in 1986. He retired in 1988 as the senior aviator on active duty in the U.S. military.

President Barack Obama appointed Petersen in 2010 to the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy, which monitors morale, instruction and other matters.

Petersen died at age 83 in 2015 at his home in Maryland.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Ship named after Topeka native Frank Petersen delivered for naval duty

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