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Last Rank
Rear Admiral Upper Half
Last Primary NEC
111X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Surface Warfare
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1961-1963, 111X, 5th Naval District
Service Years
1920 - 1963
Rear Admiral Upper Half
Rear Admiral Upper Half

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember PETERSEN, Wallis (Navy Cross), RADM.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
Jun 23, 1991
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Plot: Section 8 Site 7178

 Official Badges 

US Navy Retired 30

 Unofficial Badges 

US Navy Honorable Discharge

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Rear Admiral Wallis Frederick Petersen

Wallis Petersen graduated from Cresco High School in 1918 and was a 1924 graduate of the Naval Academy. During the span of his naval career, Admiral Petersen held executive offices aboard the USS Elliott. He was Commander of the USS Mustin when it rescued 337 survivors from the Hornet carrier.  For his actions related to the USS Mustin, he earned the Navy Cross.  He was also awarded a Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit.  His career extended beyond war time taking him to Norfolk, Virginia where he commanded the 5th Naval District. Admiral Petersen resided in Bethesda, Maryland where he died June 23, 1991. 

Rear Admiral Wallis F. Petersen spent 43 years in active duty with the Navy.

Wallis F. Petersen was born in Council Bluffs. He was graduated from Cresco high school in 1918 and attend the University of Iowa for a year before entering the U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on June 9, 1920.

He was graduated from the naval academy on June 4, 1924, and was commissioned an ensign. Upon graduation from the Naval Academy in 1924, he was assigned to the “USS Tennessee” for two years. Mr. Petersen then served three years with destroyers with duty on the “USS Henshaw” and the “USS Decatur.” Ordered to the Asiatic station, in July 1929, he served on the “USS Beaver,” “USS John D Ford” and “USS Pillsbury” until 1932.

At that time he was returned to the United States and was with the navy department in Washington, D.C.

His next sea duty included two years as turret officer of the “USS Maryland” and a year as executive officer of the “USS Elliot.”

In 1937 he was ordered to the University of Washington at Seattle to serve for two years as an instructor in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps unit. In July 1939 he joined the “USS Yorktown” as gunnery officer.

On August 15, 1941, he assumed command of “USS Mustin,” and continued as her commanding officer after the United States entered World War II, until December 30, 1942.

During the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands on October 26, 1942, the “USS Mustin” rescued 337 survivors of the doomed “Hornet”, and fired the torpedoes necessary to sink the abandoned carrier. He was awarded the Navy Cross for “extraordinary heroism” as commanding officer of the “USS Mustin” during this aerial attack on enemy Japanese naval forces.

Mr. Petersen then returned to the United States and assumed command of the “USS Bush” on May 10, 1943. A month later he was designated commander of destroyer squadron 33, which additional duty in command of destroyed division 43. He was awarded the bronze star medal for meritorious achievement as commander of destroyer squadron 22 from February 20 to May 4, 1944.

He was also awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat “V”, for meritorious service as screen commander for an amphibious group and fire support unit from June to August 1944, during the assault and capture of Saipan.

In September 1944, he returned to the United States and served in the bureau of naval personnel in Washington, D.C., until September 1946. During this time he received a letter of commendation, with ribbon, from the Secretary of Navy.

He was in command of the “USS Fargo” in 1948 and 1949. He attended the National War College, in Washington, D.C., completing the course in July, 1950.

Early in December 1951, he assumed command of the military sea transportation service, with headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. He received his rank of rear admiral on January 1, 1952.

In April, 1953, he reported as deputy commandant, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Defense college, Paris, France, and in February 1955, assumed command of amphibious group two, U.S. Atlantic fleet.

He was director of the Pan American Affairs and U.S. Naval Missions division of the chief of naval operations in 1957 and 1958; after which he served as chief of the military assistance advisory group, Portugal, with headquarters in Lisbon. On September 11, 1961, he assumed duty as commandant of the Fifth naval district with headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, with additional duty as commander of the naval base, Norfolk, where he remained until retirement on November 1, 1963.

In addition to the awards mentioned, Rear Admiral Petersen has the Yangtze Service Medal, American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 10 battle stars, the American Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Navy Occupation Service Medal, Europe Clasp, the National Defense Service Medal, The Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal.

Rear Admiral Petersen and his wife retired to Washington, D.C.
Other Comments:
Cresco's Five Admirals
Cresco Iowa is very proud of its veterans. It is a community which has provided more than its share of men and women who have served our country in the Armed Services.

On May 30, 1994, the 50th Anniverary of World War II, Cresco was designated a World War II Commemorative Community by the Department of Defense. A special ceremony was conducted by the VFW and the American Legion Club in recognition of this honor. During the ceremony the VFW received a Commemorative Community Certificate of Designation, the distinctive World War II Commemoration Flag, and the official United States of American 50th Anniversary of WW II Commemoration Lapel Pin.

Cresco is proud of the brave men and women who sacrificed so much for our country so that we might live in peace today. A monument to our veterans has been erected in Courthouse Square.
Vice Admiral FRANK J. LOWRY • Rear Admiral MICHAEL J. MALANAPHY • Rear Admiral ARTHUR T. MOEN • Rear Admiral WALLIS F. PETERSEN • Rear Admiral GEORGE E. PECKHAM
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Command at Sea
Command Ashore

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)US NavyUSS Beaver (AS-5)Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) (Faculty Staff)
USS Maryland (BB-46)NROTC (Faculty Staff)USS Yorktown (CV-5)National War College
Military Sea Transportation ServiceNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  1920-1924, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1924-1926, 116X, USS Tennessee (BB-43)
  1926-1927, 116X, USS Henshaw (DD-278)
  1927-1929, 116X, USS Decatur (DD-341)
  1929-1930, 116X, USS Beaver (AS-5)
  1930-1931, 111X, USS John D.Ford (DD-228)
  1933-1934, 111X, Division of Fleet Training, Navy Operations, Navy Department
  1935-1936, 111X, USS Maryland (BB-46)
  1937-1939, 111X, University of Washington NROTC (Cadre)
  1938-1940, USS Elliot (DD-146)
  1939-1941, 111X, USS Yorktown (CV-5)
  1941-1942, USS Mustin (DD-413)
  1943-1943, USS Bush (DD-529)
  1946-1948, 111X, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1948-1949, 111X, USS Fargo (CL-106)
  1949-1950, 111X, National War College
  1951-1953, 111X, Military Sea Transportation Service
  1953-1955, 111X, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  1955-1957, 111X, Commander, Eleventh Amphibious Force, Group II, Commander, Twelfth Fleet
  1957-1958, 111X, Pan Am
  1959-1961, 111X, Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG)
  1961-1963, 111X, 5th Naval District
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings
  1942-1942 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Cape Esperance (Second Savo)
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Tassafaronga (Fourth Savo)
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval Academy
  1920-1924, United States Naval Academy
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Wallis Frederick Petersen
  Sep 20, 2015, General Photos1
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