David McKelvey Peterson
|David M. Peterson|
|Born||July 2, 1894
|Died||March 16, 1919
Daytona Beach, Florida
|Buried||Glen Dyberry Cemetery, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, Plot: G / 36|
|Service/branch||Aéronautique Militaire (France)
Air Service, United States Army
|Years of service||1916 - 1918 (France)
1918 - 1919 (USA)
|Commands held||95th Aero Squadron|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
|Awards||Distinguished Service Cross (2)
Croix de Guerre
Major David McKelvey Peterson was a 1915 Lehigh University graduate who was a World War I flying ace with 6 aerial victories, one earned in the Lafayette Escadrille and five officially credited while with the United States Army Air Service. Born in Honesdale, PA on July 2, 1895, he was killed in an aviation accident following the war in Daytona Beach, Florida on March 16, 1919.
Peterson joined the French air service in 1916. He gained his first victory while in the Lafayette Escadrille, on 19 September 1917. Commissioned a captain in the United States Army Air Service in January 1918, on 19 February he was one of 17 pilots in the French air service to be assigned to the original flying echelon of the American 103rd Aero Squadron, the first unit of the Air Service to see combat in World War I.
Peterson transferred to the 94th Aero Squadron, flying a Nieuport 28, and scored his first victories in American service, on 3 May and twice on 15 May. Two days later, he was a Flight Commander in the 95th Aero Squadron, scoring his fifth win. Three days later, he tallied his final victory.
He was awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses. The citation for the first was:
"For extraordinary heroism in action near Luneville, France, on 3 May 1918. Leading a patrol of three, Captain Peterson encountered five enemy planes at an altitude of 3,500 meters and immediately gave battle. Notwithstanding the fact that he was attacked from all sides, this officer, by skilful maneuvering, succeeded in shooting down one of the enemy planes and dispersing the remaining four."
and for the second was:
"For extraordinary heroism in action near Thiaucourt, France, on 15 May 1918. While on patrol alone, Captain Peterson encountered two enemy planes at an altitude of 5,200 meters. He promptly attacked despite the odds and shot down one of the enemy planes in flames. While thus engaged he was attacked from above by the second enemy plane, but by skilful manoeuvering he succeeded in shooting it down also."
His recognized aerial victories included:
Date Time Unit Opponent Location
- 1 19 Sep 1917, 1540, N124 Albatros D.V Montfaucon
- 2 3 May 1918, 1040, 94 Scout Amenencourt
- 3 15 May 1918, 1205, 94 Rumpler C Thiaucourt
- 4 15 May 1918, 1210, 94 Rumpler C Thiaucourt
- 5 17 May 1918, 2100, 95 LVG C.VI St. Mihiel
- 6 20 May 1918, 95 Two-seater Pont-a-Mousson
- Looking Backward, A Lehigh University Scrapbook, Lehigh University, 1991
- Nieuport Aces of World War 1. Norman Franks. Osprey Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1-85532-961-1, ISBN 978-1-85532-961-4.
- American Aces of World War 1 Harry Dempsey. Osprey Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84176-375-6, ISBN 978-1-84176-375-0.