| Days of Infamy |
POD: March, 1941;
Relevant POD: December 7, 1941
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Date of Birth:||1910s|
|Date of Death:||1943|
|Cause of Death:||Crushed by falling rock|
|Military Branch:|| United States Navy|
(World War II)
Peterson was on board the USS Enterprise in November, 1941 when it was ordered to Wake Island in anticipation that the Japanese were going to attack the U.S. Peterson openly scoffed at the notion that Japan would go to war with the United States.
However, on December 7, 1941, as the Enterprise approached Hawaii, it received a signal that Pearl Harbor was under attack by a squadron of Japanese fighters. Peterson was forced to reconsider his dismissal of Japanese military skill. Peterson was one of several men who boarded Wildcats and engaged the Japanese Zeroes. Peterson saw his wingman Marvin Morrison killed, and his own plane crippled by Saburo Shindo. Peterson bailed out. His parachute carried him to a golf course, where he was able to commandeer a car and link up with American forces.
Peterson initially begged for another plane, but the attack on Pearl Harbor had destroyed most of the planes available. Peterson contented himself to join the infantry. He participated in the desperate losing defense of the island of Oahu from the invading Japanese army, before surrendering in February, 1942.
Peterson found himself in a POW camp in the Kalihi Valley, subject to the merciless policies of the Japanese, which held POWs in contempt. After sitting in a camp for some weeks, Peterson volunteered for a work detail, repairing the damage done during the fighting. He was part of a shooting squad: groups of prisoners that would be put to death if one of their number escaped. Peterson divided his time between working and keeping an eye on the troublesome Walter London, a shifty man who was intent on escaping, despite the consequences of his comrades.
Despite the efforts of Peterson and the shooting squad, London did escape. To Peterson's surprise, his squad was not executed. Instead, the Japanese seemed resolved to work the men to death building a tunnel.
In 1943, Peterson's group was joined by various civilians arrested by the Japanese, Charlie Kaapu among them. Kaapu was able to escape, offering to take Peterson with him. The emaciated Peterson, believing he would simply hinder Kaapu, declined.
The United States returned in the summer of 1943. As the American invasion force drew near, the Japanese seemed intent on completing the tunnel, even bringing in additional equipment one morning. Some hours into his labor, Peterson realized that the Japanese intended to dynamite the tunnel and leave the POWs buried alive before they could be rescued. Peterson and several men rushed to escape, but couldn't get out before the Japanese dynamited the entrance. Peterson was crushed by the falling rock at the mouth, relieved that he wouldn't be buried alive.