Keel ceremony for the Frank E. Petersen Jr

The newest Arleigh Burke class destroyer currently under construction at Ingalls Shipbuilding is named for the first African American Marine Corps aviator and general. A ceremony was held today to authenticate the keel for the ship named to honor late Lieutenant General Frank E. Petersen Jr.
U.S Marine Corps Lieutenant Frank E. Petersen Jr. first enlisted in the U.S. Navy in June 1950. Just two years later he became the Marine Corps first black aviator and now a keel ceremony for an Arleigh Burke class destroyer named in honor of him, something his wife Alicia Petersen was grateful to witness. “This ceremony is so special for our family. We consider it such an honor that Frank has been recognized with the naming of this ship and that this is occurring during Black History Month.”
Arleigh Burke class destroyers are highly capable, multi-mission ships that conduct a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. The ship’s sponsor, D’Arcy Neller, wife of U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller, traced her initials to the keel plate, verifying the keel has been properly laid on the ship.
General Robert Neller said during his address he had the honor of knowing General Peterson, a man who served combat tours in Korea and Vietnam. “He was a light-hearted guy. He liked to have a good time. Whoever serves on this ship should be a warrior with a happy heart because that’s the way General Petersen was.”
Alicia Petersen says if her husband were alive today, he’d be happy to see his legacy and accomplishments being passed down for others to learn from. “Because he would understand that the mission and the things that are happening across the world today are so important. To think that his ship would be in a position to have a really important role and young men could serve on it and think about him when they’re doing it. That would mean a lot to him.”

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