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Oral History interview of Wilhelm Peterson. Interview conducted by Steinberg, Andrew Jay at Peterson's Residence in Orlando, FL.


0:23 Biographical Information; 0:30 Parent's Occupation; 2:10 Size of Family; 2:18 Education; 3:27 Eating Lunch at Parent's Cafeteria; 4:46 Quitting High School and attending College at UF; 6:00 Volunteering for US Army Air Force Reserve; 6:35 Being called into the US Army Air Force; 6:45 Reporting to Miami Beach; 8:15 Brother becomes Officer in US Navy; 8:55 Navy sends brother to Graduate School for Physics; 9:00 Brother works on secret project to miniaturize radar; 10:08 Mr. Peterson's age joining the military; 10:45 Reason for joining Air Force; 11:15 Meteorology and Mechanical Engineering Training at North Carolina State; 11:53 Aviation Training in Piper Cubs; 12:22 Aviation training in Stearman biplane; 13:28 Sent to Greenwood, Mississippi for training on BT13 planes; 13:33 Sent to Dothan, Alabama for training on AT6 planes; 13:49 Sent to Montgomery, Alabama for training on P-40's; 16:22 Cliffs near airbase on lwo Jima causing accidents; 17:16 Accidents during Aviation Training; 23:35 Arial Gunnery Training; 24:18 Practiced shooting skeet to learn how to lead shots; 24:23 Traveling to the Pacific; 24:50 Storm almost capsizes transport ship; 27:00 Forming the 506th Fighter Group in Lakeland, FL; 27:47 Traveling to Tinian then to lwo Jima; 28:37 First Impressions of lwo Jima, first air raid; 30:37 Japanese Soldiers hiding in tunnels on lwo Jima, break out and kill airmen; 32:10 Food received in the Pacific; 32:50 Trading whiskey for meat with the Navy; 34:25 Describing escort mission from lwo Jima; 34:57 Describing mission to attack Japanese Air fields; 36:00 Mission changed to attacking trains, power plants, and fuel storage; 36:24 Describing how to fire the Fighter plane's rockets; 37:44 Describing Japanese Air Defenses; 38:24 Describing how to survive an over-heating engine; 39:23 Pilots bail out into ocean, B-17 drops survival boat, Japanese planes attack; 43:05 Engaging Japanese planes; 46:15 Had to point out every instrument in P-51 cockpit blindfolded; 46:48 Describing fuel tanks and limited fuel problems; 48:55 Experienced technical problem during mission; 50:09 Circling Tokyo Bay during Japanese Surrender; 52:25 Medical Supplies flown to Yokohama for released US POWs; 52:58 Flew as a passenger on supply plan to Japan; 53:25 Dropped off at railroad station in Yokohama; 54:10 Met Mr. Chiba who explains why many Japanese speak English; 55:58 Visiting Tokyo; 56:50 Eating Lunch with Mr. Chiba, having trouble eating whale blubber; 1:00:00 Shopping in Japan, Japanese hide merchandize from US Soldiers; 1:02:10 Meeting US troops in Tokyo who were supposed to be first into Tokyo; 1:04:20 Eating dinner with Mr. Chiba's family; 1:06:35 Traveling back to America; 1:09:38 Moving to Orlando; 1:09:51 Receiving medals; 1:10:57 Occupation after the war.

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

Gary (Ind.)




White - Non Hispanic

Home State


War or Conflict

World War II



Begin/End date of Service - 1st



Video; MovingImage


Entrance into Service


Branch of Service

U.S. Air Force

Unit of Service

506th Fighter Group; 458th Squadron

Location of Service

Iwo Jima (Volcano Islands, Japan); Japan

Highest Rank

First Lieutenant; 1stLt

Prisoner of War


Service Related Injury



Battle of Iwo Jima


Air Medal


The first American soldier in Tokyo.


Awarded two air medals for missions over Japan. During Battle of Iwo Jima, flew from Iwo Jima to Japan every other day until the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Distance approximately 750 miles (1500 RT) plus time over Japan attacking various targets in various locations.

City of Birth


Country of Birth

United States


Steinberg, Andrew J.

Interview Date


Location of Interview

Peterson's Residence in Orlando, FL.


Peterson, Wilhelm H.; World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives; Iwo Jima, Battle of, Japan, 1945; United States. Air Force

Collection Description

Contains logs, audio and video recordings of interviews with Central Florida's veterans as part of a history class project for the students at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The UCF Community Veterans History Project(CVHP) started in fall 2010. It collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public the experiences of Central Florida's veterans so that future generations will better understand the realities of conflict. It is a collaborative endeavor supported by multiple departments and offices at UCF. The veterans' histories are archived and made digitally available through the UCF library and selected materials are contributed to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

Contributor Affiliation / Organization

RICHES; University of Central Florida


Steinberg, Andrew J.

Length of Interview

84 Minutes


Department of History, University of Central Florida




All rights are held by the respective holding institution. This material is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. For permission to reproduce and/or for copyright information contact Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries, (407) 823-2576. http://library.ucf.edu/about/departments/special-collections-university-archives/


University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives

Contributing Project

UCF Community Veterans History Project

Document Type