2016 Wall of GallantrY - CapT William W. Peterson
Lieutenant Peterson received the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement on 30 July 1982 as aircraft commander of Coast Guard HH-52A helicopter 1425 engaged in the perilous rescue of nine survivors from a Coast Guard HC-130 fixed wing 1600. The HC-130 had crashed in bad weather while on a flight from Shemya Air Force Base (AFB) to Coast Guard Loran Station Attu Island, Alaska.
Flying in extremely hazardous conditions with ceiling as low as 65 feet, visibility as low as 1/16th of a mile, and winds gusting up to 30 knots, Lieutenant Peterson flew his helicopter across 90 miles of open sea from Coast Guard Cutter Mellon to Attu where he began homing in on an Electronic Locater Transmitter beacon. Inching the helo along the side of a mountain in thick fog, 40 knot winds, and turbulence, the crew located four survivors.
Placing his co-pilot on the ground to aid the injured, Lieutenant Peterson performed a most demanding hoist and transported these survivors to the Loran Station. Returning to the scene, Lieutenant Peterson was able to re-locate the crash site. In weather that was still deteriorating, he again sent his co-pilot out to aid the injured. He then flew to the Loran Station alone, picked up four personnel and returned to assist at the crash.
Leaving his co-pilot at the crash site to direct the groups arriving from the Loran Station, Lieutenant Peterson and his air-crewman transported the remaining five survivors and then the original four to Shemya AFB.
Because of the heroic efforts and aeronautical skills of Lieutenant Peterson, all of the crash survivors were located and transported in a timely fashion. Lieutenant Peterson’s courage, judgment, and unwavering devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.