Local veteran hailed as hero
by Ron Swift | Patterson Irrigator
Dec 02, 2010 | 971 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Swift
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Much research into wartime military casualties from the West Side has been done in recent months by local dentist Tom Klein, himself a Vietnam veteran, who was born and raised in Patterson.

Klein’s efforts have turned up interesting information about a number of those whose lives were sacrificed not only on foreign soil, but in wartime tragedies here in our country.

A recent column in the Modesto Bee about Klein’s project brought forth information from Carl E. Peterson of that city. Peterson, now 72, is the only child of Sgt. Fred C. Peterson, a Pattersonite killed in Italy in 1944.

Carl Peterson has few memories of his father, who enlisted in the U.S. Army in June 1942 when Carl was about to observe his fourth birthday. Fred had been overseas about 15 months, first serving in North Africa and then in Italy.

According to military records received by Fred’s widow, Loudella, who was living in Patterson at the time, Sgt. Peterson’s gallantry was well documented. By order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, as well as a Purple Heart.

According to the first letter from his commanding officer, “On 25 March 1944 at 2200 hours Sergeant Fred C. Peterson had returned from guiding a patrol from Company I through a mine field when the enemy laid down a mortar barrage. Your husband and another soldier in the company were struck by shell fragments during this barrage. Sgt. Peterson requested that all immediate medical attention be given to the other soldier as he believed him the more seriously wounded.

“Your husband walked to the battalion aid station to be treated and was subsequently evacuated to a hospital. The hospital in which your husband was a patient was bombed by enemy planes and he was killed during this bombing.”

Almost a year later, another letter arrived, this one from the war department. It gave additional information:

“When his company relieved another unit on the front line, Sergeant Peterson, who had been on a reconnaissance party the previous evening, was there to escort each man to his position and point out his sector of fire.

“In order to be certain of placing the men in the strongest positions, Sergeant Peterson had voluntarily joined a patrol into enemy lines and had been shown the gap in the barbed wire used by friendly troops to get into enemy territory. On 24 March 1944 Sergeant Peterson voluntarily led a raiding party in a surprise attack on an enemy machine gun and destroyed it, thus wiping out a dangerous menace to his Company’s position.

“Sergeant Peterson’s leadership and courage in this action was exemplary and a credit to the military service.”

He was born in Marshall, Okla., and according to his son, the family resided for a time in the Bakersfield area. After the initial burial in Italy, his remains were reinterred in a Bakersfield cemetery in 1948.

Two of his three brothers were in the U.S. Air Force. One, Carl, received a Bronze Star. Now about 88, he resides in Southern California. A sister, Elizabeth, married Charles Richardson and raised a family here.

After his father’s death, the younger Carl Peterson and his mother moved to Modesto, where he attended school. He retired as an accountant with the Gallo organization. Carl has photos of his mother in military uniform, serving as a staff car driver for the military facility in Lathrop. She later remarried.

Fred C. Peterson’s name is included among the 32 from the Patterson Township who lost their lives during World War II. They are remembered on a plaque in Patterson’s downtown Veterans Memorial Park.

Hello, come arrest me

Here’s just one more reason (there are many more) not to use a cell phone.

Three Stockton men allegedly stole a bamboo tree last week, and one of them inadvertently dialed 9-1-1 on the cell phone in his pocket. Police listened to their conversation, used the phone to track their location and made the arrests.

Serves ’em right.

Another 90-pluser

Add to the Patterson area’s growing list of residents who are 90 years of age and older the name of Lois McBride. She’s 95 and lived most of her life in Newman, but now lives here with her daughter, Barbara Silveira. From what I’ve been told, she’s an avid San Francisco Giants fan and doesn’t miss one of their games on TV.

With the Giants winning the World Series, Lois undoubtedly has had a good year.

With her addition, the 90-plus list has grown to 51. Interestingly enough, I have six other names and ages to verify and appreciate tips passed along by both phone and e-mail.

Just a thought

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.

Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

For the sports fan

Hats off to the PHS Tiger football team, which finished its season 11-2. The Tigers provided thrills for the local fans that will long be remembered, beating several excellent teams and handing Escalon its only loss. (The Cougars play for a section title this weekend.)

Granada of Livermore, which tripped the Tigers early in the season, finished 7-4 and ranked 22nd in the seven-county Bay Area by the SF Chronicle, while Del Oro will challenge Oakdale for the section crown this Saturday. That puts the Tigers in pretty elite company.

Why, you ask, would the Connecticut women, winners of 81 straight cage games, be playing Howard last weekend? (The Huskies won 86-25.)

Oh yes, the No. 5 Xavier women bounced Troy 99-37, No. 18 Notre Dame spanked IUPUI 95-29, and No. 24 Vanderbilt humbled Quinnipiac 111-53. That’s how you get ranked in the Top 25.

And finally...

Readers apparently expect me to be a genius, for they e-mail me questions such as:

Why do we sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” when we are already there?

Ahhh — ya gotta love this town.

• Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at ronkay@evansinet.com.

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