Retired July 31, 1970. Died Jan. 28, 1990.
Major General Chesley Gordon Peterson is assistant chief of staff for intelligence, Staff, Commander in Chief, Pacific. In this position he exercises control over the intelligence activities of the Pacific Command. His responsibilities include planning, directing, coordinating and conducting intelligence activities in the largest Unified command in the world.
General Peterson was born in Salmon, Idaho, in 1920, and grew up in the small farming community of Santaquin, Utah, where his parents moved in 1928. He graduated from Payson High School, Utah, and received his bachelor of arts degree in political science from Brigham Young University.
He entered the military service with the Utah National Guard in 1937. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1939, he joined the Royal Air Force in London, in September 1940. His first assignment was with Royal Air Force Station Howarden and then Eagle Squadron 71 in England. He entered the U.S. Army Air Forces in September 1942 and was assigned as executive officer, 4th Fighter Group, England. In July 1943 he reported to the 8th Fighter Command and later the 65th Fighter Wing, England, as assistant operations and training officer.
During the period 1940-1944, while wearing the uniforms of the Royal Air Force and U.S. Army Air Forces officer, General Peterson participated in the Battle of Britain, was the youngest squadron commander in the Royal Air Force, and flew 130 combat sorties over the English Channel into enemy territory. Additionally, he scored at least nine enemy kills, plus nine probables; became the youngest full colonel in the U.S. Army Air Forces at the age of 23; and survived a 500-foot fall into the English Channel when his parachute failed to open after bailing out of a crippled P-47 Thunderbolt.
On his return from combat in late 1944, General Peterson attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Upon completion in March 1945, he was assigned as commander, Dale Mabry Field, Tallahassee, Fla. In August of that year, he was appointed chief, Air Attache Branch, Headquarters Army Air Forces, Washington, D.C.
He was appointed military attache and military air attache, Intelligence Division, Pretoria, Union of South Africa, in April 1946. Returning again to the United States in August 1949, he was assigned as air instructor, 128th Fighter Bomber Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, Milwaukee, Wis.
In August 1951, General Peterson assumed command of the 137th Fighter Bomber Group at Alexandria, La., and then deployed in May of 1952 to Chaumont Air Base, France. Later in 1953, he became commander of the 48th Fighter Bomber Wing at the same location.
General Peterson returned to Washington, D.C., in June 1955 and served the next three years first as chief, Tactical Branch, Operations Plans Division, Directorate of Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, then chief, Fighter Branch, Operations Control Division, and later deputy chief, Operations Control Division, Directorate of Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
After graduating from the Air War College in 1959, he was again assigned overseas to the Pacific where he assumed command of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing in August 1959 and then became deputy commander, 41st Air Division, at Itazuke Air Base, Japan, and in July 1961, chief of staff, Fifth Air Force, Fuchu Air Station, Japan.
In July 1963, General Peterson reported to U.S. Strike Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., as assistant chief of staff, J-2. He was appointed director of intelligence in October 1963 and director of plans, J-5, in December 1965.
General Peterson assumed his present duties on April 1, 1967, as assistant chief of staff for intelligence, Staff, Commander in Chief, Pacific.
His decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, Legion of Merit, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart, British Distinguished Service Order, British Distinguished Flying Cross and the French Legion of Honor.