On January 22, 1942, Fred Frichot Peterman, Jr., a native Dallasite, entered the U.S. Army Air Corps; He was in the first cadet class that accepted married men. On October 9, 1942, Fred received his “wings” and 2nd Lt. Bars. Then he began B-17 training in Boise, Idaho. From there he went to Casper, Wyoming, Scottsbluff, Nebraska and Salina, Kansas. He was sent to Bassingbourn, England as a B-17 pilot to fly 25 missions over Germany. He was able to complete his missions and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.
When the war ended, Fred left the service and returned to Dallas. He returned to the Dallas Fire Dept. to his former job, until he fell down the pole. He decided to re-enlist and was sent to Lowry Field, Colorado for Photography School.
He was recalled and in July 1949, orders came to report to Germany. I couldn’t join him until November. He had leave and we took a cable car ride to the Zugspitz, the highest mountain in Germany, visited Martin Luther’s Church in Marksburg, attended the Passion Play in Oberammergau and saw Hitler’s house.
Fred’s assignment was in communications at Freising. We joined the German-American discussion group and made friends with many Germans. We went skiing with them and had many happy times with them. Luckily most of them spoke English. I had an excellent German piano teacher, who located a used upright grand piano for me and it was my “travelling” piano for 32 years. We said “Auf Wiedersehen” to Germany in July 1952.
Fred went to the Air Force University Command & Staff School. After graduation, he was assigned to Carswell AFB in Fort Worth. We had a watermelon party for 25 Peterman family members while there.
In 1954 we went to Madrid, Spain. Our Spanish landlord was a member of the Order of Malta, who are descendants of the Crusaders and have existed since 1050. Fred remembered his Spanish from high school and I started taking lessons. Our landlady invited us to a dinner party she was giving for their Spanish friends; so we had to speak Spanish. She invited me to join them for Easter at their ancestral home in the country. I kept saying, “si, si,” but when we got home, Fred told me I had agreed to go by bus by myself as he had to work a few days before Easter. He drove up later, but the bus trip was quite an experience! People carrying chickens on the bus and bus stops where no one spoke English. Their home was over 300 years old and we enjoyed the vacation.
After our years in Spain, we were sent to Orlando, Florida. We bought a home as we couldn’t find anything to rent. In 1958, Mrs. Fred F. Pearl “Mom” Peterman made her first flight and did very well. We enjoyed her visit and all our family guests while we were stationed there. When we left, we rented our home, deciding we would return when retirement came.
In February 1959, Fred was sent to Pakistan for a year, but wives couldn’t go. In July he called me to say I should pay my way as there was an opening for a secretary at the Consulate. It was an interesting but difficult time as I was the only Air Force wife there. We met Anglican church missionaries, a doctor and his wife, who worked at the Mission Hospital. We saw primitive conditions in the hospital and Fred raised money from the Air Force personnel.
From Pakistan we went to Ramstein AFB in Germany. We bought a small travel trailer to see if we wanted one for our planned retirement trip. We went to France in it for Thanksgiving. We made trips to Copenhagen, Sweden and Norway and enjoyed it very much.
Our last assignment was in Dover, Delaware. We ordered a trailer and named it the “Stay-Loose Caboose.” On March 6, 1963 Fred finished 20 years. His squadron gave us a fare-well party, and we returned to Orlando.
Fred decided to get his college degree in Journalism and Photography. He became the photographer for the University of Texas at Tyler. Texas called him home.
By Mary Peterman for Dallas County Pioneer Association‘s Proud Heritage, Volume III.