Navy Warship Named for 1st Black Marine Corps Aviator

A U.S. Navy destroyer warship has been named in honor of a Topeka three star general who became the first black aviator, first black general and first black base commander in the Marine Corps.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced this month that the destroyer under construction will bear the name of Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen Jr.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Mabus said Petersen’s courage and perseverance made him deserving of the honor. Petersen enlisted in the Navy in 1950 and left in 1952 to accept a commission as a second lieutenant and become the first black pilot in the Marine Corps.

Petersen retired in 1988. He died in 2015.

Construction of the USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. began April 27. It is expected to enter the Navy fleet in 2020.