A soaring homecoming tribute to a WWII hero
It was the buzz on Broadway Saturday afternoon: What was that airplane doing flying in low over the Jefferson High School homecoming parade?
As it turns out, the plane was part of a homecoming tribute to the late Richard A. "Bud" Peterson, a renowned World War II fighter ace who graduated from Alexandria High School in 1940.
Peterson, along with actor John Hawkes and Tastefully Simple co-founder Joani Nielson, were inducted into the School District 206 Alumni Hall of Fame on Friday by the Alexandria Public Schools Education Foundation.
Peterson, who passed away in 2000, was the youngest Army airman to achieve the rank of major (age 21). He was awarded the Air Medal, the Distinguished Service Cross (three times), The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Silver Star and countless Oak Leaf Clusters. France awarded him the Croix De Guerre. He was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2000.
His famous P51 Mustang Fighter plane was named "Hurry Home Honey" after the way his future wife, Elaine Bjorklund of Alexandria, signed her letters to him.
His father, Harry Peterson, served as superintendent of schools in Alexandria from 1930 to 1948.
As the story goes, when Bud Peterson came home from the war in 1945, he flew his P40 plane low over Alexandria in celebratory fashion, letting everyone know he had arrived safely. He reportedly performed barrel rolls over Broadway and swooped over his old school, which later became Central Junior High and is now part of the Douglas County Service Center building.
He also briefly touched his wheels to the ground over the old football field.
Members of the aviation community knew of Peterson's heroic accomplishments in the war and arranged a flyover as a salute to the Peterson family members who were part of the parade.
Maybe some of that fighting spirit and camaraderie carried over to the Cardinal football team on Friday. It soared to its first win of the year, a 21-7 victory over St. Cloud Apollo.
Visit www.echopress.com for more photos from the parade and other homecoming activities.
Al Edenloff Al Edenloff was born in Alexandria and later moved to Parkers Prairie where he graduated in 1979. While in high school, he wrote sports stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent. Al graduated from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communication and started at the Echo Press as a summer intern in 1983. He worked as a reporter until 1990 when he was named editor. He's earned several writing and reporting awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA) and the National Newspaper Association. He was presented with the Minnesota News Council's Journalism Accountability Award and is a three-time winner of the MNA's Herman Roe Editorial Writing Award. In his spare time, Al enjoys golfing, fishing, biking, watching sports, cooking and reading mystery novels.