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KEEL LAID: February 21, 2017

CHRISTENED: October 6, 2018

COMMISSIONED: May 14, 2022 in Charleston, South Carolina

THE SHIELD: The dark blue background and red stripe pay tribute to LtGen Petersen’s distinguished service as a United States Marine. The vertical propeller denotes LtGen Petersen as the first African-American Marine Corps aviator, capped with a silver star to highlight that he was also the first African-American Marine Corps General Officer. The two flanking stars combine to indicate his highest grade of Lieutenant General. The four Argent piles resemble fangs, alluding to the motto and characterize a fierce warrior spirit.

THE CREST: The black knight’s helm is emblematic of LtGen Petersen’s favorite squadron that he commanded in Vietnam, the VFMA 314 Black Knights. The knight’s helm also signifies honor and prestige, a noble legacy set by LtGen Petersen which will be carried forward by the ship’s command and crew.

THE MOTTO: The motto, “INTO THE TIGER’S JAW,” was used by LtGen Petersen many times in his life and conveys the unbridled spirit confronting and overcoming social injustices and prejudices as well as courage and bravery in combat.

THE MISSION: The mission of USS FRANK E. PETERSEN JR. (DDG 121) is to be prepared to conduct prompt, sustained, combat operations at sea in support of national policy. Meeting this mission requires focus on four priorities: Safety, Operational Excellence, Mental and Physical Toughness and Family and Personal Readiness.






 Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen Jr., retired from the Marine Corps on 1 August 1988. He was presented the Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service as the Commanding General (CG), Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia, from June 1986 to July 1988, upon his retirement.

Frank E. Petersen, Jr. was born 2 March 1932, in Topeka, Kansas. He joined the U.S. Navy as a seaman apprentice in June 1950. He served as an electronics technician and in 1951 entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program. In October 1952, he completed flight training and accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.

His first tactical assignment was with Marine Fighter Squadron 212 during the Korean conflict. He commanded a Marine Fighter Squadron, a Marine Aircraft Group, a Marine Amphibious Brigade, a Marine Aircraft Wing, and his final command. General Petersen served two combat tours, Korea in 1953 and Vietnam in 1968. He flew in excess of 350 combat missions and had over 4,000 hours in various fighter/attack aircraft.

He received his bachelor’s degree in 1967 and his master’s degree in 1973, both from George Washington University, Washington, D.C. In 1987, he was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Law degree granted by Virginia Union University. In addition, he attended the following service schools: the Amphibious Warfare School, Quantico, Virginia; the Aviation Safety Officers Course as the University of Southern California; and the National War College, Washington, D.C., class of 1973.

In February 1979, he was selected for promotion to brigadier general, and in May 1983 was advanced to the rank of major general. He was promoted to lieutenant general on 12 June 1986.

His numerous decorations include: the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Combat “V”, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

At the time of his retirement, Lieutenant General Petersen was by date of aviator designation the senior ranking aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S Navy with respective titles of “Silver Hawk” and “Grey Eagle.” His date of designation as an aviator also precedes all other aviators in the U.S Air Force and Army.

Lieutenant General Petersen relinquished duties as the Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia, on 8 July 1988. He served as the Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff from 8 July 1988 until 31 July and retired from the Marine Corps on 1 August 1988. Lieutenant General Petersen passed away on 25 August 2015 at the age of 83.

For more information on Lieutenant General Petersen and his legacy, please visit



USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121)

Unit 10010 BOX 1
FPO AP 96691

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