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What is the history of Peterson Air Force Base?

Peterson Air Force Base, located in the southeast corner of Colorado Springs, Colo., traces its roots to the Colorado Springs Army Air Base, established on April 28, 1942. At that time, the base was aligned with the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport which had been in operation since 1926. The airfield carried out photo reconnaissance training, then later bomber combat crew training, which supported flying units deploying overseas during World War II.

The base is named for 1st Lt. Edward J. Peterson, an operations officer with the 14th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron. Lieutenant Peterson, a Colorado native, was killed on Aug. 8, 1942, when his twin-engine F-4 Lightning, a photo reconnaissance version of the famed P-38 Lightning, crashed while attempting to take off from the airfield. The base's fire department responded to the crash, rescuing the young officer from the burning wreckage. Tragically, Lieutenant Peterson succumbed to significant burns and died at a local hospital that afternoon, thereby becoming the first Coloradoan killed in a flying accident at the airfield. In honor of the fallen Airman, officials changed the name of the base from the Colorado Springs Army Air Base to Peterson Army Air Base on Dec. 13, 1942.

To learn more about Peterson AFB, click here to see the base's fact sheet.

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