John Paul Peterson was born in Cromwell, CT March 10, 1920, graduated from Portland (CT)High School June 1938. Graduated from Upsala College with a B.A. degree June 1942. He enlisted in Air Force June 1942 at Newark, NJ.
Called to service December 7, 1942 Newark, NJ. Inducted to Air Force in San Antonio, TX as aviation cadet. Sent to Cimeron Field in Oklahoma, then on to Sioux Falls, SD for radio operation. From there to Gunnery School in Yuma, AZ. Joined B-24 crew at Westover Field, MA in March 1944. Married to Sherrill Prisk on March 7, 1942. Trained with crew at Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina.
Left U.S. in June 1944 and arrived in Italy in July 1944 and joined 459B Bomb Group. Shot down over Blackhimer, Germany on August 22, 1944. Spent time in solitary confinement at Budapest. Sent to Stalag Luft IV (Poland) via the famous boxcar trains. Interned there until February 6, 1945. Survived the infamous 600-mile "Death March" for 86 days across Germany during the dead of winter in 1945).
He was Liberated at Halle, Germany on April 26, 1945. Flew to Camp Lucky Strike in LaHavre, France. Returned by boat to U.S.A and landed in N.Y.C. on June 6, 1945. Separated from service October 1945 at Fort Devans, MA.
Married to his best friend and wife for 57 years, Sherrill H. (Prisk) Peterson. They raised two sons, and a daughter in Portland, CT, where he was a lifelong resident. He was part owner and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Wm. R. Peterson Oil Co., a family business.