Posthumous Silver Star/Air Medal group, LT Dennis Peterson, HS-2, USS Constellation
Group of three to Lieutenant Dennis W. Peterson, US Navy: Silver Star, slot brooch, officially machine-engraved “LT/Dennis W. Peterson/USN”; Air Medal, slot brooch, with one gold star, officially machine-engraved “LT/Dennis W. Peterson/USN”; Purple Heart, slot brooch, officially machine-engraved “LT/Dennis W. Peterson/USN”.
On 18 July 1967, three aircraft were lost from USS Oriskany in attacks on the Co Trai Road and Railway Bridge in North Vietnam. One of the pilots was able to get out over water before ejecting and was picked up by US forces. A second pilot ejected about 45 miles southeast of Hanoi, but was picked up by a US Air Force search and rescue helicopter (the SAR pilot, Major Glen York, received an Air Force Cross for the rescue). The third pilot ejected and was able to evade capture briefly, but intense ground fire kept the SAR forces at bay. The following morning, LT Peterson’s SH-3A Sea King helicopter was launched from USS Constellation to continue the SAR effort, but it was hit by ground fire and crashed, killing all aboard and causing the SAR effort to be canceled. Peterson, from Huntington Beach, California, remained missing in action until 2000, when recovery teams found remains matching the crewmen and Peterson. The four men were buried in a group grave at Arlington National Cemetery.