Joe Peterburs

Joseph Peterburs enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in November 1942 and was called to duty as an Aviation Cadet in January 1943.

After basic training and aircraft training, he was selected for single-engine pilot training and, in April 1944, received his wings and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.

At 19, Peterburs was assigned to the 20th Fighter Group, 55th Squadron serving in England where the group was flying the P-51 Mustang. He flew 49 missions for the 20th Fighter Group.

On his last mission, flying escort for B-17 bombers headed toward Berlin, Peterburs chased a Me262 slicing through the formation and attacked. After injuring the 262, Peterburs strafed an airfield several times, destroying five enemy aircraft and damaging several hangars, but his aircraft was too damaged to make it back to base.

He eventually bailed out near Burg, Germany and was immediately captured as a prisoner of war. He quickly escaped, joined the Russians and fought with them to the battle of Wittenburg on the river Elbe.

After World War II, Peterburs held several command and administrative non-flying positions, but continued to fly B-25s and C-47s to maintain his proficiency. At 22, he was promoted to Captain in June 1947.

In December 1951, he was recalled to active duty and assigned to the 12th Squadron, 18th Fighter Bomb Group flying out of Hoengsong, Korea, where he was a Squadron Flight Leader, Assistant Group Operations Officer and Group Training Officer.

After serving in Korea, Peterburs served a tour in Newfoundland, a tour at North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Headquarters and a tour with the Royal Air Force (RAF) Fighter Command Headquarters at Bushy Heath, England.

In 1967, Peterburs was assigned to the 7th Air Force Headquarters, Vietnam, as Staff Operations Officer for command and control in the war zone. From 1968 to 1972 he was Director of the 31st NORAD Region Combat Operations Center. He was promoted to Colonel in 1969.

Colonel Peterburs retired after 36 years of military service in 1979 as a command pilot with over 2000 hours of conventional and 2000 hours of jet time. He flew 125 combat missions.

His decorations include: The legion of Merit, The Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC), the Bronze Star with one OLC, The Purple Heart with one OLC, the Air Medal with seven OLCs, the POW Medal and 32 other medals and decorations.