On Deck
An Article by Rod Peterson

My name is Rod Peterson. My father, Les Peterson (deceased
14 October 1995), served with the 750th of the 457th from August
of 1944 through the end of the year. He (and my mother,
Mildred, also a veteran) joined the 457th Bomb Group Association
in the 1970's, and he was also a charter member of the 8th AF
Historical Society. I am second generation 457th, born after the
war, but I have had an insatiable interest in aviation all of my life,
due in no small part to my father. Those are about the only bona fides I
have. Nevertheless, as a semiprofessional writer, I want to try and make a
small and regular contribution to the newsletter of the 457th Bomb Group
Association and help to promote and further its purpose.

The recent reunion in Colorado Springs was by all accounts an unmitigated
success. I know that Nancy and Joe bemoaned the cancellation of the Air
Force Academy luncheon, but I did not hear a single participant express
anything but the complete understanding for it, given the circumstances of
the previous week, and no one, that I'm aware of, went hungry or
unentertained during the time slot allocated for it.

I had attended the 1990 and '92 mini-reunions in Peterborough and had met
several of the attendees that were also at Colorado Springs. Of course the
stateside reunions are bigger, so there were a lot more people to meet.
Fortunately my mother knows many of them from previous reunions so that was a
big help. The message I wish to send from my experience is that anyone who
has never attended a reunion should try and do so. I especially encourage
second generation members or relatives to attend as well. There is a feeling
at one of these like no other and it deserves to be shared.

Although there were some parts of the reunion that were memorable by anyone's
measure, I was personally affected by two in particular. The dinner speaker
at the banquet was a Congressional Medal of Honor holder from the Vietnam
War, and his presentation was memorable. As someone who has always
appreciated the significance of the Medal of Honor, I was particularly proud
and humbled to be able to shake his hand and speak with him briefly.

The second part was more personal. I met a half dozen or so sons and
daughters of 457th veterans and I believe the future of the organization,
about which I hear so many veterans express concern, is well situated in
their ranks. I had long felt that there was no way that we, the second
generation, who were not there, could carry on the organization that was
based on the veterans who been there and done it.

But remembrance, the principle upon which organizations such as the 457th are
formed, isn't just about recalling the experience with those others who lived
it with you, remembrance is also participating in the furtherance of the
organization so that the result of that experience isn't forgotten. The next
generation weren't there for the former, but we and our sons and daughters
can be there for the latter.

The veterans are at bat in the long game of the 457th Bomb Group Association,
but we're On Deck, and we won't forget, nor will we let it be forgotten.

--Rod Peterson